Companies urged to integrate robots in manufacturing to improve productivity post-COVID

May 28, 2020 - 8:44 PM
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Employee working with Universal Robots
Employee working with Universal Robots' collaborative robots in a manufacturing firm. (Photo from Universal Robots)

Denmark-based company Universal Robots recently urged the manufacturing industry of the Philippines to accelerate its adoption of robotic automation to remain efficient amid tough economic times expected after the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The firm is a manufacturer of “collaborative robots” or cobots that aim to bridge the gap between manual assemblies and automated manufacturing lines.

Cobots, once integrated into the local manufacturing sector, could potentially improve productivity for up to 30% as companions of human operators and service maintenance engineers in manufacturing plants.

UR Benchmark Electronics
Benchmark Electronics using Universal Robots’ cobots. (Photo from Universal Robots)

“Cobots fit snugly into the Philippines market, enabling humans and robots to share tasks along a production line. With the assistance of cobots, local manufacturers can achieve higher levels of efficiency and rapid productivity gains,” Darell Adams, the firm’s head of the Southeast Asia and Oceania region, said in a statement.

He added that cobots can be easily reprogrammed to solve new tasks to meet the production challenges faced by companies as a result of the pandemic wherein the volume of onsite workers are reduced under quarantine protocols.

Metro Manila and other areas are currently placed under modified enhanced community quarantine which restricts the number of onsite workers in a bid to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Cebu and Mandaue Cities, on the other hand, are also under an enhanced community quarantine, a stricter version of this measure.

UR Benchmark

Benchmark Electronics using Universal Robots’ cobots. (Photo from Universal Robots)

The firm said that companies that have chosen to integrate cobots increased their production “by as much as 300 percent.” It also reduced defects by “90 percent” and lifted profits by “20 percent.”

One of the offices of a US-based global engineering firm in Thailand has integrated collaborative robots and witnessed “greater consistency” in terms of production, as well as “minimal human error.”

UR Benchmark workers
Workers of Benchmark Electronics using Universal Robots’ cobots. (Photo from Universal Robots)

“We have improved operational efficiency by 25 percent and saved manufacturing space by 10 percent. This will be good for new business opportunities,” Boonlert Aukkarapichata, the director of operations of Benchmark Thailand, said.

The firm producing cobots said that the robots would be significantly helpful in industries such as electronics, automotive, semiconductor, food and beverage, furniture and consumer products.

“Tomorrow’s workplace will be run by highly-skilled workers assisted by intelligent devices. Cobots help automate and streamline repetitive and potentially unsafe processes, thus, ensuring safe work environment while increasing productivity and efficiency,” Adams said.

UR Benchmark cobot

A cobot in Benchmark Electronics. (Photo from Universal Robots)

The Philippines’ manufacturing industry is a key player in driving the country’s economy as it accounts for almost a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the industry has “slumped for the first time this year” due to the effects of the pandemic.

An economist said that lockdown measures in Luzon and some key areas in Visayas and Mindanao have crippled the manufacturing activities in March, especially those considered “non-essential” such as electronics.