Today Universal Robots products can be found in factories across the world. But there is no limit to the company’s ambitions. Can we expect to see UR cobots at the jeweller’s shop or perhaps doing pavement drawings?
Why not? The current period is one of changing consumer habits. Our generation is so affluent and focused on individualization that demand is growing for products crafted by hand. Cutting costs is no longer the exclusive consideration of manufacturing. Instead we must ask ourselves whether we can demand double the price despite being in a better position to meet consumer needs?
Will the human touch be reintroduced to the factory of the future?
Absolutely. Things have moved way beyond caged industrial robots carrying out automated processes to replace human labour in the workplace. Collaborative robots are now augmenting human intelligence and delivering the speed, accuracy and precision needed to create modern products, while ensuring the right mix of the human touch and technology. This is why we will see more cobots in new applications.
Do companies really need cobots?
The trend among consumers is clearly in favour of products which convey human empathy, engagement and creativity. In future consumers will also be prepared to pay more for them. For example, watches, craft beers, tables, chairs, designer items or black lava salt from Iceland. Customers accept new technology such as cobots to speed up the manufacturing process, but they want to retain the human touch.
So we can expect some big changes in industrial production?
It’s already happening. China is trying hard to keep manufacturing in the country but many foreign companies are moving back to their country of origin – and their home markets. Digitization, 3D printing and cobots, of course, are restoring local production. In future we will still have some huge factories – for example, plant producing aluminium – but we will also see many small production centres manufacturing for local markets.