#ThoughtsOnRobots: Olivier Morel
Olivier Morel, Sales Manager & Business Developer, Kawasaki Robotics Europe - answering our questions on rootics
Why do you think the sale of collaborative robots has increased in recent years?
The growth has been amazing from 2014 to 2018, and I think it’s mainly because people are less “afraid” of collaborative robots now than before. In particular, small and mid-sized companies are more accepting of robotics, and many actually think they can install a robot on their own because “the neighbour” did it.
Which working processes have the biggest potential for collaborative robots?
I would say that all processes which use “real” collaborative applications in the business-to-business area have potential. In the future, collaborative robots should have the potential to be approximately 5% to 10% of the robotic market, and this number can probably grow if we can use collaborative robots in the right way.
What are the current trends within end-of-arm tooling?
At the moment, many people are looking for flexibility in end effectors, and lightweight is very important as well. Also, many companies are interested in compactness in the end effector to reduce the abacus of charge of robots and to be able to lift more payload. Another product on the rise is electric end effectors: Even though they are known to be more expensive than pneumatic end effectors, they are consuming less energy, and that’s important for many companies. I think we will see more “green products” like this in the future.
How do you see the perspectives for the use end-of-arm tooling in the future?
With new end effectors being able to pick all surfaces and sizes, the food and beverage and the farming industry will see a particular benefit from using flexible end effectors. But to be honest, I do not see any industry in which end effectors cannot create added value. Integrators and end customers will always need end-of-arm tooling, and with the growth of the robotic market in general, we can expect a similar growth in the end effector business.
What are the biggest challenges the collaborative robot industry will face in the future?
The biggest challenge for the industry will be to stick to where collaborative robots are needed and not try to rise market shares in heavy industries or other fields where collaborative robots don’t create value. In some cases, it is more expensive and difficult to install a collaborative robot than using an industrial or coexisting robot. For example, we can see a lot of collaborative robots with security scans or other external security devices where it would be better to use an industrial robot or equip it with a security module and a security device.
What should the industry do to overcome the challenge?
The collaborative robot manufacturers need to focus on where and why they should install collaborative robots and apply more common sense when selling their products. Don’t get me wrong, I love collaborative robots and have worked with them for many years. I just don’t think they should be in competition with industrial robots because this could be destroying the customers’ confidence in robotics in general.
Do you have a “favourite” collaborative robot or application?
Yes, the duAro collaborative robot with two arms from Kawasaki which positions the screen protection of an iPhone. This is real collaborative application where people give their iPhone to the robot and the robot then places the screen protection with 50-micron repeatability.
What is the best thing about working in robotics?
The best thing for me definitely is that robots are the future and will create more work than they will destroy.
#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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