Pushing the Boundaries of Robotic InnovationTue, 09/01/2015 - 14:06
Q: What are KUKA’s most attractive solutions in the automotive industry, and what drives their success?
A: The most important KUKA Robotics products for the automotive industry are certainly the KR QUANTEC, KR QUANTEC nano, and the KR FORTEC family series. The KR QUANTEC series includes 29 different robot types and offers unrivalled power density, maximum reach, and a payload capacity of between 90-300kg for obtaining optimal results and a functional range. On the other hand, the advantages of the KR QUANTEC nano product line are its low height and compact design, making it an ideal addition to compact cell concepts. Finally, KUKA’s new KR FORTEC series completes the heavy-duty segment. These new robots cover a 360-600kg payload range, closing the gap to our service-proven KR 1000 titan series. In terms of size, the automotive industry represents the most important market for robotic solutions developers. KUKA has many years of experience in robot-based automation processes, and has also developed extensive expertise in the automotive industry. Furthermore, the company has a large portfolio of solutions designed for the automotive industry, not only in terms of mechanical components and robots, but also in terms of process expertise and software packages.
Q: How flexible are KUKA’s products in effectively adapting to the requirements of different processes and applications?
A: Adapting to new technologies is always one of the major challenges for a robotic automated cell. Technology keeps changing, and we must continue improving our solutions so that our robots can adapt to innovations. Therefore, KUKA offers a wide range of products for virtually any application, as well as a flexible control platform and extensive process knowledge. These three factors enable us to quickly develop customized applications capable of adapting to any of our clients’ requirements. Similarly, efficient and sustainable robotic systems are of great importance to KUKA, but rather than simply monitoring the robot in isolation, it is also necessary to review the energy efficiency of the entire system. Laser and adhesive bonding applications are particularly sought after in the automotive industry, and in that area, KUKA Robots offers outstanding repeatability thanks to high-precision robotic arms and revised motion planning. Articulated robots offer many advantages, but with the lightweight robot LBR iiwa, KUKA goes one step further, offering a further degree of freedom with a seventh axis. Alongside a high-performance collision-detection function, its integrated joint torque sensors on all axes make the LBR iiwa an ideal solution for delicate joining processes and a perfect option to handle simple tools. Furthermore, its seven axes and its lightweight and streamlined design make it ideally suited to confined installation situations, and allow easy integration with existing production lines. In terms of safety, the LBR iiwa also pushes the boundaries, allowing increased speed and precision in every process. KUKA has equipped this unit with safety sensors, enabling it to feel its surroundings. As a result, the robot can work in direct collaboration with its human operator, creating a safer environment and minimizing operating flaws.
Q: How has the KUKA College worked to train engineers and technicians, and how much success has this institution had in Mexico?
A: This center has helped our clients pursue more efficient asset utilization, and has contributed to enhancing robotics expertise in Mexico. In addition, we recently launched our KUKA KORE program in Mexico, which has generated considerable interest from various colleges and universities. As a company, we are excited to contribute to the development of new engineers within the robotics industry. We are aware of the challenges regarding human workforce and their advantages in certain industrial applications. In every industry there will always be tasks carried out by humans and not by robots. However, rising labor costs in emerging economies and the simultaneous demand for better quality is also leading to a shift in key activities, which will ultimately lead to humans being allocated other tasks instead of losing their jobs. In light of an increasing shortage of skilled workers in many sectors, automation will provide useful solutions in certain industries such as automotive production. Particularly, the KUKA LBR iiwa paves the way for a completely new approach thanks to its sensitivity. This system can assist humans, and it can take over unpleasant, monotonous processes, so that humans can concentrate on more complex and demanding tasks.