Universal Robots sees PHL potentials in automation

In Photo: This April 5 photo shows Shermine Gotfredsen, Universal Robots A/S general manager for Southeast Asia and Oceania, conducts a demonstration of the “cobot” (collaborative robot) during the company’s recent news briefing in Makati City.

Story & photo by Rizal Raoul Reyes

ODENSE, Denmark-based Universal Robots (UR) A/S expressed optimism in its business prospects in the Philippines as several industries in the country are pursuing the automation route.

“There is a lot of potential in the Philippine market as semiconductor, food and beverage, automotive, electronics and educational institutions are progressing into the automation market,” said Shermine Gotfredsen, UR general manager of Universal Robots for Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Gotfredsen said in a news briefing on April 5 in Makati City that entrepreneurs must have an open-minded attitude and willing to get their hands dirty.

Moreover, Gotfredsen said Southeast Asia offers huge business opportunities because itis poised for expansion with large markets experiencing important sales growth. As a key manufacturing hub producing for Asia and the world, SEA’s automotive sector grew by 11 percent CAGR between 2010 and 2015.

She pointed out the upcoming implementation of the Asean Free-Trade Area is expected to lower import and export taxes in the region, further driving demand for cost-effective regionally manufactured vehicles.

The Philippine automotive industry is one of the key drivers of the economy, contributing 4 percent of GDP in 2011 and is the third fastest-growing automotive market in Southeast Asia.

Currently the country has a 2-percent market share in the region. With increasing demand for automotive vehicles, the Philippines automotive industry is moving towards automation using collaborative industrial robots to ensure cost-effective increases in manufacturing.

Nissan Motor Co. is one of the major clients of UR as it has successfully deployed the Danish firm’s robot arms at its Yokohama factory. The automaker joins other global automotive manufacturers who are using Universal Robots’s collaborative robots, or “cobots”, to automate their processes.

Cobots are an offshoot of traditional industrial robots. They are lightweight and mobile in terms of deployment, and are flexible enough to be modified for different applications. The automotive industry uses cobots handling, assembling, packaging, palletizing, labelling, painting, quality control and machine tending.

The market value for collaborative industrial robots in the automotive industry was $23.56 million in 2015 and is projected to reach $469.82 million by 2021, at a CAGR of 64.67 percent between 2015 and 2021.

Each cobot costs €20,000 to €30,000. Through the deployment of the cobots, Gotfredsen said Nissan has enhanced its production processes, resulting in a higher level of output and stability as well as time and cost efficiencies. Nissan’s aging work force was given a reduced workload and “redeployed to less strenuous tasks,” she added.

“The global automotive industry plays a key role in driving the adoption of ‘cobots’ to produce better manufacturing output, and this is critical for industry players to stay competitive,” Gotfredsen said. “Our cobots effectively support process automation, resulting in improved safety standards and less strain on human employees.”

Image Credits: Rizal Raoul Reyes