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Finally, on the Tuesday of the HANNOVER MESSE week, the wait was over. After briefly introducing the three shortlisted nominees, Minister Althusmann announced the winner of the ROBOTICS AWARD 2018 . Notwithstanding the whoops of delight from the representatives of Heinz Berger Maschinenfabrik, the other two place-getters, the Fraunhofer Institute IFAM (second) and the Stuttgart-based drag&bot (third), were also in good heart, since making it through to the final of this prestigious prize is already a major achievement.

The ROBOTICS AWARD, which has been a fixture at HANNOVER MESSE for the past eight years, honors technological innovations that make a special contribution to robot-aided solutions in industrial automation and/or mobile robots and autonomous systems. Entries are required to be market-ready or already trialed in industry, and presented to the public for the first time at the relevant HANNOVER MESSE. The judges look for automation solutions that are at the cutting edge in terms of both technology and economic viability, and make a major contribution in the industrial or social arena.

This year's winner is a company with a long tradition behind it. Heinz Berger Maschinenfabrik has been producing grinding and polishing machines since 1957. The firm specializes in grinding and polishing technology for workpieces across an extensive range of industries, including cutting tools, hand tools, surgical implements and the wood processing industry. The Wuppertal firm's entry for the ROBOTICS AWARD was a process chain of robot cells. Tool and workpiece changes are performed as a completely automatic operation by a total of 33 fully interacting and integrated robot systems. The intelligent interaction of the cells and allocation of production steps result in a highly flexible and efficient operation – even for small production runs. An integrated Industry 4.0 interface with IP-based protocols means that the system can be controlled and monitored from anywhere in the world. The system is already in use for production operations at the Wuppertal plant. In their comments, the jury noted in particular that this was a holistic solution for the SME segment in an area that had not been previously automated.

Second place went to the Fraunhofer Institute IFAM (industrial fabrication and applied materials research) for its mobile system for milling large-scale structural components. The system allows standard industrial robots to be turned into mobile CNC milling robots. Third place was awarded to the automation specialist drag&bot . The Stuttgart-based firm's entry was a platform for the intuitive programming and operation and flexible deployment of industrial robots from a wide range of different manufacturers.