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RBR50 company Universal Robots, the leading developer of collaborative robot arms, has sold its 50,000 cobot. No other cobot company has sold close to that number of units. The cobot was purchased by VEMA technische Kunststoffteile GmbH and VEMA Werkzeug- und Formenbau GmbH, a manufacturer located in Krauchenwies-Göggingen, Germany.
This is VEMA’s fourth cobot from Universal Robots. The previous three UR cobots are deployed in pick-and-place tasks in end-of-line applications. Jürgen von Hollen, president of Universal Robots, delivered the 50,000th cobot to mark the industry milestone.
“We have worked very hard in the past 15 years to develop an entirely new market segment with a mission to enable especially small- and medium sized companies to automate tasks they thought were too costly or complex,“ said von Hollen. “As a pioneer in this market, we put a lot of work into creating awareness, influencing standards, and changing customers’ perceptions influenced by their experience of traditional robots.”
Universal Robots sold its 25,000 cobot in 2018, doubling its sales in the past two-plus years. Cobots are projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 30.37% from 2020–2025.
Christian Veser, managing director at VEMA GmbH, said the cobots have enabled the company to add a third shift and operate around the clock.
“We have enhanced our productivity remarkably and also achieved better quality,” he said. “Our employees are freed from ergonomically-straining work to focus on quality testing. In navigating COVID-19 challenges, it has also been a great advantage that the cobots don’t need to keep a safety distance or undergo quarantine. They can always work.”
VEMA named the new cobot Jürgen. Its other three cobots are named Elfriede, Günther and Bruno.
von Hollen leaving Universal Robots
After four-plus years serving as president of UR, von Hollen is stepping down at the end of 2020. He was recently named the new CEO of Ultimaker, a Dutch 3D printer manufacturer. During the first six months of 2020, Ultimaker experienced double-digit growth year-over-year globally, including over 30% growth in the U.S.
“It is such a privilege to end my time at [Universal Robots] by marking this milestone,” von Hollen said. “We have come far, but there is still an immense potential in the market both for well-known and completely new cobot applications. With our unrivaled installed base, we are constantly learning from our customers, leveraging a very data-driven approach in the development of our cobots. This is an approach I believe will help keep us leading the field in the years to come.”
Gregory Smith, president of Teradyne’s Industrial Automation Group, will step in to fill the role of UR president on January 1, 2021 until a new leader is named.
“I thank Jürgen for his leadership over the past four years in growing Universal Robots from start-up status into the undisputed global leader in industrial collaborative robots,” said Mark Jagiela, president and CEO of Teradyne, which acquired Universal Robots in 2015 for $285 million. “He leaves behind a strong platform for the next level of growth with a talented workforce, an engaged ecosystem of distribution and technology partners as well as an expansive worldwide customer base.”
von Hollen was a guest on The Robot Report Podcast earlier in 2020. He talked about how he almost turned down the job, how Universal Robots has maintained its culture of innovation over the years, and cobot trends to keep an eye on. Jürgen also took off his company hat for a bit and opened up about his life outside of work. You can listen to the conversation below, starting at the 29:07 mark.