In robotics, one company’s demise doesn’t mean the end of the line for its employees or its intellectual property. Blue Workforce A/S, which made a collaborative robot and shut down just weeks ago, lives on, thanks to growing gripper maker OnRobot A/S.
Odense, Denmark-based OnRobot claims to be “the one-stop shop for end-of-arm tooling.” The company was formed last year from the merger of On Robot, OptoForce, and Perception Robotics. It later acquired Purple Robotics and has raised more funding.
“We’ve concluded our integration of the four companies,” said Enrico Krog Iversen, CEO of OnRobot. “We’ve rebranded and opened sales and technical support offices in Japan, South Korea, and Europe.”
“We make it easy to do business with us by hiring local people,” he told The Robot Report at Automate/ProMat in Chicago last week.
Aalborg, Denmark-based Blue Workforce filed for bankruptcy after an unsuccessful funding round. Blue Workforce designed robots for agricultural and food processing applications. It employed 12 developers in Denmark, and OnRobot said it has hired them. It did not specify the value of the acquisition.
Preben Hjørnet, CEO of Blue Workforce, indicated to The Robot Report at the time that he hoped that the Ragnar robot and the company’s other assets would find a buyer.
OnRobot plans quick turnaround for Blue Workforce products
“We saw an obvious opportunity to expand our product portfolio with some unique technologies and competencies within soft gripping and vision technologies, i.e., solutions that can handle delicate items and foods without damaging them, as well as camera-based solutions for inspection on production lines,” stated Iversen. “We expect very quickly to be able to create new OnRobot products with ingredients from the inventions we’ve bought.”
“We have nine different products today, and within the next 21 months, we would like to reach 40 to 50 products, grippers, and sensors and vision and other technologies for collaborative robotics applications,” he added. “So, by the end of 2020, we expect to be ready with a complete product range of equipment for collaborative robot solutions.”
OnRobot said it will integrate all of Blue Workforce‘s products, inventory, and tools into its development department. The developers will continue to work in Aalborg, and OnRobot has a total staff of more than 145 employees worldwide.
“We are working on detailed plans for integrating the Blue Workforce products and technologies into the OnRobot product portfolio,” Iversen told The Robot Report.
Related content: The Robot Report issue on collaborative robots.
“We want to be the global supplier of whatever you need for collaboration,” said Iversen. “Users have had to go to multiple companies, and it now take s a long time to build. We’re trying to help integrators.”
“The robot doesn’t create value; the application or system does,” he said. “We don’t just integrate with [Danish cobot leader] Universal Robotics. We integrate with nine brands.”
OnRobot’s new Gecko gripper recently won awards at Hannover Messe in Germany and the Edison Awards Gala in New York.
“We’re doing a lot of in-house development, with 50 engineers,” he said. “We’re making two to three acquisitions this year, and we plan to make more next year.”
“When we look at companies, we look at the cultural fit and their strategy,” Iversen said. “We’re looking at any company doing hardware or software for collaborative applications.”
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