‘India has always been one of the largest potential markets’
Jürgen von Hollen, President – Universal Robots, spoke to Milton D’Silva during the Hannover Messe Preview at Hannover recently.
During the presentation at the Preview, you mentioned India is a very important market for Universal Robots. Can you elaborate?
India has always been one of the largest potential markets out there. But the question to ask is the complexity of getting the message to the customers. This is especially true in our case when we have a relatively new product segment, but if you look at the potential – and my focus is on the small and medium segment – that makes India a huge base of SMEs. The challenge though is how we support them to integrate and transform their business with this technology. Because one of the things which everyone thinks about robotics is it needs lots of volume and a long period for return on investment and actually this is simply not true. That is really the message we want to convey.
Another interesting point you made is the collaborative robot was targeted at the SME segment but more than 50% of your customers are the large companies.
It is kind of logical though, rational because the large companies know and understand technology, have their automation engineers looking and checking things out in the market. The large companies have been automated for so long, especially automotive. Some of the first movers in our technology, they were testing it and validating it much before the SMEs really started looking at it. UR was founded on the principle that large companies have significant advantage over SMEs in terms of capital, engineers and resources. So one of the things we focus on is bringing technologies to the SMEs. They too need the technology to be competitive, and as globalisation hits us more and more, technology should be the driver or enabler for the smaller companies. That is also the reason we are excited about the Hannover Messe – because it is broad. The applications we have are broad. What I have seen is when you bring in new technology you take away the barriers of cost, complexity, and allow people to start innovating around the technology.
Universal Robots has creating an ecosystem of many companies working together. How does this work in practice?
One of the things we believe is not trying to do everything internally – so we have this open ecosystem – the Universal Robots Plus. It is an ecosystem of companies developing solutions, applications software, grippers, sensors, cameras, etc. And for us, this is such an enabler as we have now almost 400 partners making solutions for us! All we do is provide them a platform and enable them to start – there is no cost involved. For us, it is about selling the cobot, and suddenly the cobot is not just ours, it is everyone’s. This that is the opportunity we have by sharing and looking for this common vision, enabling technology to drive the future of business.
Are there any partners for Universal Robots in India?
Well, about India, I actually have no answer to that, but to me it was clear all along that as a company we cannot do everything by ourselves as mentioned earlier and the idea is to operate locally as well. Recently I met with the Indian Ambassador in Denmark and one of the discussion points was how to introduce the UR Plus platform in India and other countries to help enable this whole technology drive local innovation, because to participate, it does not cost anything – it is open, they can simply get going. Any startup that wants to build a business, develop a certified product can have access to our global customer base – it is online and it is free.