#ThoughtsOnRobots: Enric Vila
Enric Vila, Technical Director, Vicosystems
What are the biggest trends within the field of collaborative applications right now?
In Spain, collaborative applications are becoming increasingly popular for parts-handling processes in small- and medium-sized businesses, for example within the manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries. Big automotive companies like Seat and Nissan are also investing heavily in collaborative robots.
Why do you think the sale of collaborative applications has increased in recent years?
The main reason for the growth is without a doubt the great ease of use for the collaborative robots, especially in small manufacturing companies. Because of their small size and big flexibility, collaborative robots are easy to deploy in many processes where they can make a significant difference. A side effect of the increasing sales has been a fierce competition in Spain where established manufacturers of industrial robots often compete directly with new collaborative robot companies like Universal Robots and Doosan.
How do you see the biggest potentials for collaborative applications in the future?
I see potentials for collaborative applications in all industries with a need for processing small parts quick and easy – especially in companies where the pieces to be handled are very different in terms of both shape and weight. Around 20 years ago, installing an industrial robot was an expensive and time-consuming process, but today collaborative robots are cheap and easy to install, even when it comes to processing parts as small as 1-2 kilograms. Also, they are cheap and easy to maintain in the long run. I think we will see an increasing demand in the future.
What are the biggest challenges for the collaborative robot industry in the future?
Most collaborative robots are more expensive than industrial robots, but on the other hand the price of integration and installation is much more economical with collaborative robots. As robot companies, it is our job to show our clients the best solution for rapid implementation and a good ROI. At Vicosystems, our experience in industrial processes makes us experts in knowing how to implement the most appropriate product to install in a robotic process, as is the case with OnRobot’s products.
How should the collaborative robot industry, in your view, overcome the challenges?
The obvious solution to the price problem is to make the cobots more economical so they are cheaper to buy and can reach more manufacturers. Moreover, the robot companies will need to educate their customers more about the advantages of collaborative applications, for example the level of flexibility.
What has surprised you the most working in the robot industry?
What has surprised me the most is that many people think that robots are intended to replace humans. This is a misconception because the robot doesn’t do human tasks but robot tasks, which are constant, repetitive and always the same – and without getting exhausted. A human being thinks and cannot perform the same task in the same way time and time again.
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