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Foundry Daily News

20. February 2011

GER - Robotics for small and medium sized enterprises

A new generation of robots is set to take SMEs by storm, helping to make their workflows more flexible and more precise. They will be on display at HANNOVER MESSE in Halls 17 and 16.

In a global market economy, the competitiveness of the manufacturing industry is dependent to a large degree on ensuring a continuous rise in productivity and quality. Since the beginning of the 1980s, automation technology and robotics have been crucial in realizing these two factors. Having primarily shaped everyday life at large companies in the past, this technology is now also becoming increasingly important for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are often faced with a high degree of variety and small batch sizes. SMEs are the dominant force shaping the social and economic fabric throughout Europe. In Germany, the Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (Institute for SME Research, IfM) in Bonn has found that 99.7 percent of all companies liable for VAT are SMEs. And they employ around 65.8 percent of workers liable for social insurance contributions.

With the life cycles of products getting shorter year on year and batch sizes getting ever smaller, minimal changes in design can make the difference between success and failure. SMEs are having to focus more closely on special requirements and produce customer-specific solutions en masse. Cost-effective and flexible automation can simplify things considerably, because robots always deliver consistent quality. And they are becoming increasingly flexible. Thanks to the latest robotic modules, even smaller companies can take advantage of cutting-edge automatic manufacturing technologies that enable rapid product changeovers. With robots that can communicate with one another, that are quick and easy to program and that can interact with humans, laser grids or cameras are now frequently replacing the massive safety cages with their high space requirements.

The Robotation Academy at HANNOVER MESSE is geared primarily towards the needs of SMEs and will be offering short training courses and consulting services for robotics and automation during HANNOVER MESSE 2011. A wide range of robot applications will be on display in Application Park in Hall 17.

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