Universal Robots sees greater future for innovation, growth in China, executive says

Moser credited the invention partly to the Chinese market, where new application scenarios are cropping up for emerging technologies.

China is the world’s largest market for collaborative robot, or cobot, says a top executive of a leading Danish robot firm.

Stacey Moser, chief commercial officer of Universal Robots (优傲机器人), or UR, recently told Chinese media that China provides an immense market for robots, a congenial business environment and an ecosystem amid the country’s shift toward smart manufacturing and sustainable development.

The businesswoman sat down to speak to China Economic Weekly, a business and financial magazine, on the occasion of the firm’s 10th anniversary in China.

Headquartered in Odense, the third largest city of Denmark, UR has so far sold 75,000 cobots worldwide since its first commercial cobot made its debut in 2008. They cater to different working radiuses and payloads.

More than 1,000 of the Danish firm’s clients are in China, spanning fields from automaking and electronics to metal processing and life sciences, Moser said.

Local innovation, global replication

At the recent 23th China International Industry Fair, UR introduced for the first time its innovative model UR20.

With a working radius of 1,750 mm and a payload of 20 kg, UR20 comes with a new joint design and configuration.

This gives the device strong motion control capabilities, lifting the speed of its joints by 65% in some cases as well as the joint torque by 25%.

Moser credited the invention partly to the Chinese market, where new application scenarios are cropping up for emerging technologies.

This makes China an ideal testing ground for UR to validate its solutions and swiftly replicate them to other markets in the world.

A notable example is welding, an industry that is beset by a chronic shortage of welders, Moser stated.

Traditionally, welding in factories is left to be done by large industrial robots, but now, cobots like those supplied by UR have begun to take over in ever-larger numbers, she noted.

Besides, UR’s cobots are distinct because they not just perform welding tasks in an indoor environment but can be deployed to outdoor construction sites, to aid onsite workers, Moser added.

UR+ ecosystem

To date, UR boasts 1,100-plus ecosystem partners worldwide, building an innovation platform known as “UR+” together.

Under this system, different components and accessories developed by partners can be integrated into UR’s cobots to enable enhanced performance and functions.

For instance, UR’s cobot arm is able to grab and move items when a gripper is placed at the end of it.

In the case of visual scanners mounted on top of the cobot arm, it is capable of completing tasks like product quality inspection, Moser claimed.

Like many multinationals that have set up shop in China, the “in China, for China” concept is at the heart of UR’s growth strategy in China.

The company says it is aligning its operations with the needs of the domestic market as well as the fixation of the manufacturing industry.

As Moser sees it, high-quality development has become a catchphrase for the manufacturing sector, and that’s where the Danish firm seeks to build a stronger presence.

“We hope to offer greater valuer for money and higher profitability to our industrial users through the deployment of UR’s cobots,” Moser said.

Notwithstanding the bright prospects, the firm is expected to face growing competition with local rivals such as JAKA Robotics (节卡机器人), Rokae (珞石机器人), Dobot (越疆科技) and Elite Robots (艾利特机器人).

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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