#ThoughtsOnRobots: Alberto Pellero
Alberto Pellero, Director Strategy & Marketing, KUKA Roboter Italy - answering out questions on robotics
What do you see as the biggest trends within the field of collaborative robots?
The biggest trend right now is co-assembly tasks where the manufacturer gets an added value in using a cobot together with humans assembling complex products. This could for example be within the automotive industry where some parts are assembled manually by humans, and other parts are assembled by cobots.
How do you see the current trends within the area of end of arm tooling?
One trend is end effectors that are customized in order to fit all different applications and shapes, for example with the use of 3D printed parts that customize fingers in a very short time. Also, screwing applications are definitely a big thing in our region, where it mostly was grippers and vacuum applications a few years back. In the future, I hope we will see an even wider range of applications, for example robots working in conjunction with sensors, vision and deep learning algorithms.
How do you see the future for collaborative robots?
In these years, we see a number of human centric operations that are switching to cobots. I think we will see a smooth increase of volume in the next years. The cost of robots will decrease in the future which will make automation cheaper, and many manufacturers will probably see robots as mandatory to keep their productivity at a high level. On the people side, I think we will see a whole new category of jobs in the future managing and interpreting the data from the robots to improve productivity.
In which industries do you see the biggest potentials for collaborative robots?
In our region, the automotive industry has big potential in the final assembly of the cars. I have just been at a factory in Germany with 44.000 employees, and they use 6-700 robots in the early stage of the process welding and assembling the body of the car, whereas the final assembly of the car with plastic and cables is more or less manual. There is an enormous potential for the use of cobots in the final stage. And, of course, also in all the big field of service robotics.
In which markets do you see the biggest potentials for cobots?
That depends on the type of cobot. For the very simple cobots, I think the market with the biggest potential is in The Far East, especially in China. For the much more complex cobots using artificial intelligence and machine learning, the biggest potential in my view is in Europe and the US.
What are the biggest challenges the collaborative robot industry will face in the future?
Even though many cobots are easy to use today, they should still be easier to use without education and training in programming. Basically, a cobot should be as easy to use as a screwdriver, and that’s not always the case which could be a challenge. At Kuka, we have just released a new robot to overcome this challenge.
Do you have a “favorite” collaborative robot or application?
My favorite is a cobot we made for an automotive manufacturing facility where a Kuka robot mounted on a Kuka mobile platform screws parts on the car chassis, while human operators are free to work around the platform. It’s complex, but it’s also a really good solution I am very proud of.
What is the best thing working within the robot industry?
Robots will ensure that our companies can maintain their competitiveness, jobs and profits in the future, and it’s great to be part of the journey. Also, I have the chance to see all kind of different industries and markets working at Kuka. Every day is a new challenge!
#ThoughtsOnRobots is a series of blogposts on onrobot.com where world leading experts, industry influencers and companies answer questions about their views on the industry, trends, challenges and potentials.
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