Cobot Lift – Giving You A Lift

We learn how Cobot Lift is offering a valuable tool to the UR+ ecosystem.

Here at Business Focus Magazine, we like Cobots. These collaborative robots, designed by Universal Robots, combine automated machinery and human creativity to create tools that are safer and more adaptable than traditional fully automated tools. One of the Universal Robots’ master strokes, however, was opening up their platform through the UR+ ecosystem to allow other manufacturers to develop tools for the Cobot system.

Today there are more than 200 UR+ products, and Cobot Lift has demonstrated just how invaluable some of these tools can be.

“Last year in the summer we were approved to become UR+ partners and that has been quite a long journey for us,” says Cobot Lift’s CEO, Henrik Gulløv. “We were founded two and a half years ago when we did our first installation in Denmark. A company came to my partner and said ‘We like to palletize sacks but we don´t have space for more industrial robots but still we want this process to be fully automatic.’ They have a lot of vacuum tube lifters that staff use as lift assists, manually guiding the movement and picking up product. Vacuum tube lifts are very powerful and can lift heavy loads, but they are manual. Facilities have been using these lift assists for years. So the idea was to combine a vacuum tube lifter that would do all the carrying with a Cobot that would guide the movement. The intelligence of a collaborative robot with the power of a vacuum tube lifter. That’s what Cobot Lift is about, combining those two things.”

Vacuum Power

Immediately it’s possible to see how a tool like this could have endless applications.

“We can successfully and safely lift 45 kilos, and it is difficult for people to understand how we can do that without endangering people, and how the robot will not be overloaded in this situation,” Gulløv says.

The advantages of Cobot Lift model are its power, but also its flexibility.

“The first selling point is it’s powerful in the way that it can boost a robot from lifting 10kg to 45kg. The second selling point is it’s intelligent, using collaborative robot functionality, making it a collaborative robot solution,” Gulløv says. “The third point is flexibility. Because we’re using that vacuum pump it enables us to grip a lot of different things. Traditionally you would need specialised grippers to lift different things but because we are using a vacuum, we can lift a lot of different items. Think about parcels sent through DHL. We’ve done projects with the Belgian postal service picking up a lot of different parcels. Combining this with AI ensures we can pick the product in the right place every time.

The Cobot Lift system has also been found to have unique advantages in industrial spaces throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

“If you look at our solution, it’s very small and can work in very cramped spaced and if you compare to an industrial robot that can fill up to five times more space than we do. So we’re saying you don’t need to build a new factory to automate,” Gulløv says. “That means we enable social distancing. A lot of these installations could be where there are vacuum lifters already installed where people are working. We’re going from manually operated vacuum tube lifters to automated ones because robots don’t get corona.”

Growth in a Time of COVID

Talking to Gulløv it’s clear he has grand ambitions for the company, but he’s having to realise those conditions under unusual constraints.

“First, how do we effectively grow our business in this corona-restrained world?” he asks. “We’re not able to travel so we now do live demonstrations remotely. We have almost a tv studio in our assembly hall. It can become a strength for us in that we don’t have a large organisation, we just have that video studio instead. Last week I was demonstrating to Chile and then to the Middle East. So we can grow, we can do business with good virtual support.”

While Cobot Lift has achieved a lot by spreading the word through remote and virtual demonstrations, Gulløv is still keen to build the kind of relationships that can only be achieved through physical presence.

“The second challenge is right now we’re operating out of Denmark and don’t have an international physical presence. We have a virtual one but we’re looking at how can we grow our organisation effectively, especially into the US market where there’s a great deal of demand,” Gulløv says. “Half of our web traffic is from the US, so how to do capitalise on that?”

A key part of that strategy is going to be building a global network of distributors.

“We’re also finding the UR distributors with the ability to distribute and integrate our parts, because our distribution network now covers 20 countries and we want to grow that and continue to grow while finding distributors that can grow with us,” Gulløv explains.

A very important strategic step on this journey is the recent announcement that TAWI, a branch of PIAB, and Cobot Lift have entered into a global partnership agreement enabling the patented Cobot Lift to be sold through TAWIs global dealer network as well.

A New Generation

As well as developing new tools and new partnerships, Cobot Lift is also investing in a new generation of engineers to continue to the company’s work.

“We are using a lot of young people. People are coming and working with us through internship and so on to gain the knowledge and it’s been helpful during the COVID-19 crisis to see how young people are working virtually,” Gulløv says. “We get people with these skills using the Odense Robotics Network.”

With this new generation of talent, Cobot Lift has plans for a great deal of future growth.

“The goal is we want to grow past 15 million euros revenue in four years,” Gulløv says. “It’s only two months ago we were three individuals, now we are twelve. We’re looking at exponential growth with a global presence through our distributor network with our own offices opening up around the world. A traditional accelerated growth company in the robotic space.”

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