Now in its seventh year, Automatica is one of the most eagerly-awaited trade fairs in the robotics and automation industry events calendar.
The four-day show will be hosted in Munich, Germany, and its organisers say it provides a “comprehensive look at the latest developments” in the sector, with around 1,000 companies taking part.
All the biggest and best-known names will be exhibiting this year, including many of the companies Robotics and Automation News has written about over the past year since this website was registered, including:
- Universal Robots;
- Nachi Robotics;
- Rethink Robotics;
- Blue Ocean Robotics;
- Visual Components
- HIT Robot Group; and of course
- Kuka, the German manufacturer of robots at the centre of a takeover bid by Chinese appliance maker Midea.
Many of the companies will be broadcasting a live feed from the show, so even if you can’t make it to Munich to the show, you can tune in and take part even as you stay in the comfort of your own computer. And we have rounded up some highlights for you.
Collaborative robotics is considered a new term because it refers to a new type of robot which is safe to use within close proximity of humans. Whereas the familiar, large industrial robotic arms were fenced off so they were not close to humans in case of injuries, collaborative robots are smaller and tend to have force sensors, making them tactile, or safer for human worker to handle and manoeuvre as required.
And it’s widely thought that Universal Robots is the first company to launch a robot which was given the label “collaborative”. Today, the company has three models of robot, all of which will be on display at Automatica, at booths 518 and 341 in hall B5.
Not only a maker of robotic hands, mainly aimed at Universal Robots, Robotiq also is a provider of much useful educational and training information about the robotics industry in general. Already successfully trading in their 2-finger and 3-finger robotic hands, the company says it will launch new innovations at Automatica. Robotics and Automation News will keep tabs on Robotiq and see what products they launch.
This year at Automatica, Robotiq will be sharing their booth with a couple of “room mates” – Artiminds, which makes software to facilitate robot programming; and Frei Teknik, which is Robotiq’s partner in Germany.
Find all three companies at booth 512, in hall B2.
The manufacturer of industrial robotic arms which are painted in a beautiful shade of red, our favourite colour and the colour of our own corporate logos and wotnot, although the Comau red looks closer to Ferrari red, which would be sort of appropriate since the company is Italian, and its parent company is the Fiat Group, which owns Ferrari.
Executives from the company spoke to Robotics and Automation News, and we owe them a debt for that. Although it has many standard industrial robots and robotic solutions, Comau tends to provide systems which are “tailored” to customers’ need.
Comau will be showcasing its latest developments in industrial automation at stand 329, hall B5.
Epson is such a huge company it’s sometimes easy to think their industrial robot business is something of an afterthought for them, which in a way it is. The Japanese industrial giant is believed to be the world leader in printers of all types – even dot-matrix printers – and it originally robots for its own use, only to start selling them to external customers later.
However, one thing clearly led to another and Seiko Epson, the parent company, now finds that its robotics division has one of the largest install bases in the world, with 55,000 industrial robots hammering and welding and soldering and assembling their way around the world.
The company is keen to show off its new robot and its new robot force sensors at Automatica.
Epson Robots will be available in hall B5 at a number of booths, including 319.
Believed to be the robot manufacturer with the largest number of robots currently in operation around the world, Fanuc has recently pioneered the use of the industrial internet of things to network all its robots on behalf of one of its clients – General Motors.
Other manufacturers are fast following Fanuc’s and GM’s lead and forging ahead and networking all their robots and machinery, which is something Fanuc could benefit from as the company has launched an IoT platform called Field, which is probably partly the result of what it learned on the GM job.
Fanuc has a number of stands at Automatica, including stand 330, in hall B6.
Currently at the centre of a global debate because of its possible sale to Chinese appliance maker Midea, the German Kuka Roboter was already one of the best known brands of industrial robots, partly because it makes some great videos about its machines, complete with dramatic music and spectacular camera angles.
This year, like most robot makers and industrialists, Kuka is emphasising networking in the cloud. Having already signed a deal with Chinese communications giant Huawei to build what the two companies claim will be a deep learning network, Kuka is preparing for the future, with or without a takeover.
Kuka can be found in hall A4, at a number of booths including 221.
Few robot companies can claim to have the distinguished history of Stäubli, having started a century ago in Switzerland in the textiles business, as a small shop actually. The company eventually bought the Unimate business, which was the first in the world to develop an industrial robot.
The company tends to make highly specialised robots for specific tasks, such as automotive parts washing. But it’s been developing more standard models too, including collaborative robots, which seem to be what everyone’s talking about these days.
Stäubli will be showcasing its latest products at Automatica in hall B5, at booth 321.
Possibly one of the most interesting companies at this year’s Automatica – from Robotics and Automation News’ point of view at least – is Visual Components. We tend to be quite interested in design and simulation software and Visual Components seem to offer one of the most powerful and multi-purpose platforms available.
Visual Components is an online application which can be used to build 3D visual virtual factories – complete with robotic work cells and everything. It was established by the people behind some of the most important functionalities currently available in Dassault Systèmes, which is the industry standard design software used by the likes of Airbus and other industrial giants.
Visual Components can be found in hall B5, and booth 402.