i4.0 today

Omron has opened a new Robotic Innovation Lab at the company’s UK headquarters in Milton Keynes. The lab, which represents an investment of £600,000 with a creation of five new jobs, is set to demonstrate how robots can be a boon to the UK manufacturing industry, as well as providing customers with a realistic overview of how robots can enhance their own individual applications.

Manufacturers across the UK are enthusiastic about the potential of robots to increase productivity and as a solution to the current industry-wide labour shortage. But, at the same time, they are reluctant to make a substantial initial capital investment without assurance that it will provide a definite ROI for their own unique application. The Omron robotics innovation lab provides those customers with a ‘proof-of-concept’ demonstration that will replicate their application in every conceivable detail prior to making any financial commitment.

Dan Rossek, Marketing Manager at Omron UK comments: “Many of the manufacturers that we meet see robots as the ideal solution to the problems they are currently facing, such as difficulties in recruiting qualified, experienced personnel. The new Robotic Innovation Lab provides a platform that can be quickly configured to give an accurate representation of the impact that robots will actually have on the customer’s own production line, as well as allowing us to demonstrate how our other products can be quickly integrated to increase the benefits provided by the robots. The lab also gives us a better understanding of our customers’ needs and provides a powerful tool that helps convert interested leads into satisfied customers.”

Through the lab, Omron now has a platform to showcase its complete portfolio of industrial robots, including SCARA, 6-Axis and high-speed Delta robots for handling goods in the production line. As well as fixed robots, Omron’s Autonomous Intelligent Vehicles are also incorporated in the innovation lab. AIV’s are capable of independently transferring raw materials and products between different production cells and loading and unloading machines, allowing manufacturers to deploy personnel onto more productive tasks.

While officially opening the lab on Wednesday 17th October, The Mayor of Milton Keynes, Councillor Martin Petchey commented: “Omron’s new Robotic Innovation Lab will help local businesses and residents by providing employment and training opportunities, and above all help Milton Keynes to become a leading city in the field of Artificial Intelligence and the fourth industrial revolution. Our aim is to be a smart city, so it’s great to celebrate this well established local business which is making AI technology accessible to all.”

As well as featuring the latest robotics technology, the lab highlights how the robots can integrate with Omron’s other products for sensing, control and motion, as well as the company’s Cloud connected and AI-controlled management systems, to provide a complete manufacturing control solution. The proof-of-concept will also go beyond the manufacturing process to show how Omron products can enhance the efficiency of other production areas, such as packaging and the distribution of materials.

The Robotic Innovation Lab has been designed with a flexible cell layout that enables staff to quickly tailor the cell configuration to match the steps and conditions found in the manufacturer’s own production line. Omron’s robots are designed to be easily-programmable and offer a wide range of handling heads that are easy to change, making set-up simple for the lab staff, even for complex processes. The company also has a philosophy that ensures every product it makes, including the robots, can be integrated quickly into a manufacturing system controlled by its powerful and easy-to-use Sysmac software.

On visiting the new facility, Milton Keynes North MP, Mark Lancaster remarked: “The opening of Omron’s new lab highlights that yet another international company recognises Milton Keynes as an innovative and forward-thinking place to do business. The creation of five new jobs in the process is always good news and I congratulate the team for their contribution to develop the latest robotics and automation technologies.”