Germany-based manufacturer of motion plastics igus is working with small and medium-sized manufacturers and integrators to help them offer cost-effective services via automation solutions.
Robot manufacturers, component providers, integrators: the individual puzzle pieces are used to create a Low Cost Automation solution tailored to the customer that pays for itself in 3 to 12 months. (Source: igus GmbH)
Test before you invest: Thanks to the customer testing areas, interested parties can find out how quickly and easily robot programming works before they invest and can have their individual Low Cost Automation application tested. (Source: igus GmbH)
In a fiercely competitive manufacturing business like plastics, maintaining low costs in production is of paramount importance, especially for small and medium-sized companies, when it comes to increasing their market competitiveness.
Motion plastics specialist, Germany-based igus has built up a broad network of 55 robotics providers and 40 integrators over the past three years. And new partners are constantly being added and these are the tools that are helping small and medium-sized companies reach their respective competitiveness.
Take for instance, the low cost automation portfolio from igus that represents a broad portfolio of articulated arm, linear, delta and SCARA robots used by the manufacturers.
Igus says that product modularity means that single components or individual complete solutions can be assembled according to the build-or-buy principle. The focus is always on a low entry-level price and quick payback. This is where igus high-performance plastics play to their strengths. They are tribologically optimised (a process that encompasses a number of basic engineering considerations like solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, lubricant chemistry, material science and heat transfer) and cost-effective to produce.
Over the past three years, igus has built up growing partner network. As part of the LCA partner programme, igus works with integrators who provide customers with additional expertise, experience with end customer projects, and joint project experience.
Says Alexander Mühlens, Head of the Low-Cost Automation Business Unit at igus, "We started with seven partners two years ago and we now have almost 100. In order to refer interested parties to competent integration partners in their area, we are constantly expanding our network. Together, we can offer our customers a wide range of automation solutions focusing on applications with a total investment volume of less than €45,000. We work with our customers to select the ideal integrator for the application in order to find the best and most cost-effective solution."
Typical services include integrating a control system into existing machines, setting up and commissioning robots, evaluating safety measures or, if there is simply no capacity, providing the capability of assembling machines on site.
Low Cost Automation live on site
Like igus, many integrators have set up a customer testing area so that customers can experience igus Low Cost Automation live. "Nothing is more convincing than being able to experience robot programming or gripper adaptations yourself on site in just 30 minutes. That's why we have over 30 customer visits a week in Cologne alone", says Mühlens. The range of test areas is wide: from a delta robot cell at ITQ GmbH in Garching near Munich to a 150-square-metre area with four robots and linear robot axes at Provitec near Heilbronn to a 1,400-square-metre customer testing area at Truphysics in Stuttgart with 300 square metres of space just for igus products. With its own Low Cost Automation roadshow, igus works with the integrator partners to organise events or visit customers directly on site. "We have already organised roadshow events in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, attracting a total of around 3,500 visitors. The aim of the roadshow is to always automate directly on site," says Mühlens.
RBTX online marketplace
Since 2019, users have also had access to the igus RBTX marketplace -- an online marketplace that brings users and manufacturers of low-cost robotics together. Alexander Mühlens: "At RBTX.com, interested parties can currently find compatible components from a total of 78 partners. The marketplace currently has 100 low-cost applications with parts lists and hardware and software compatibility for price transparency. As an open marketplace, we are always interested in new partners for the low-cost robotics mission, so that we can ultimately provide interested parties with even more individual solutions for their specific application."
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