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Cobot trio merge to create a specialist in end-of-arm tooling

11 June, 2018

Three companies specialising in end-of-arm tooling for collaborative robots (cobots) have merged to create a market-leader in this rapidly-growing market which, they say, is currently “under-served”. US-based Perception Robotics, Hungary-based OptoForce and Denmark-based On Robot, have joined forces to create OnRobot, which will drive innovation and ease-of-use for robotic end-of-arm tooling.

The merger is being led by Enrico Krog Iversen, former CEO of the cobot pioneer, Universal Robots (UR), with the Danish Growth Fund, which provides capital and expertise to help create new companies. OnRobot's headquarters will be located in Denmark under Iversen’s management, and the three entities will continue their individual operations and development as well.

“The aim is to build a world-leading organisation in the development and production of end-of-arm tooling,” says Iversen. “Through further acquisitions and collaborations, we expect to reach a revenue exceeding $100m in a few years. Safe, cost-effective and versatile cobots are becoming increasingly common because they offer sophisticated and intuitive programming that enables them to be easily deployed and redeployed. Easy-to-integrate end-of-arm tooling, such as grippers and sensors, become vital elements in adapting these powerful automation tools for a wide range of applications.”

In 2015, Iversen and the Danish Growth Fund sold UR to US-based Teradyne for $285m. With their new venture, they are hoping to boost Denmark’s already-strong position in robotics.

The three companies that will form the OnRobot were chosen on the basis of their synergistic end-of-arm technologies, the ability of these technologies to integrate easily, and their long-term vision and capabilities.

•  On Robot, founded in 2015, provides flexible, plug-and-play electric grippers that mount onto robot arms, and are simple enough to be programmed and operated from the same interface as the robot without needing engineers.

•  OptoForce, founded in 2012, provides force/torque sensors that bring the sense of touch to industrial robots so that they can automate tasks that would otherwise need the dexterity of the human hand.

•  Perception Robotics, founded in 2012, develops bio-inspired robot grippers, including a gecko-inspired gripper for handling large, flat objects, and a tactile gripper with compliant rubber tactile sensors that give robots a sense of touch. Its first grippers will be available later this year.

Enrico Krog Iversen: OnRobot's revenues will exceed $100m within a few years

At the Automatica trade show in Germany this month, OnRobot will introduce the first integrated products with combined user interfaces that simplify both the development and use of the cobots.

Collaborative robots, which work safely alongside humans in applications such as packaging, material-handling, machine-tending, assembly and welding, currently represent about 3% of global robot sales, but their share is expected to rise to 34% of a $25bn market by 2025.

“This growth will most definitely depend on cobots being used in more applications,” says Iversen. “Their small footprint and ability to work safely alongside humans make them ideal for small and medium-sized manufacturers who need to compete globally.

“Cobots are also increasingly integrated into very large manufacturers such as automotive plants, where they are taking over processes that can’t be automated using traditional robotics,” he adds. “As the types of cobot applications expand, so does the need for new tooling that can be quickly and easily integrated into the cobot’s user interface.

“The new OnRobot is championing a current mega-trend in the field of automation,” says Iversen. “Combining the unique capabilities of these end-of-arm technologies under one umbrella company that is led by some of the smartest minds in the robotics industry, will make them even easier to implement and program.”

An OnRobot gripper on a UR arm

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