Universal Robots
Martin Kjærbo

Robotics Manufacturing in the Age of COVID-19

June 11, 2020
Universal Robots’ Martin Kjærbo sheds some light on how the company is operating during the pandemic.

Universal Robots (UR) has released a Q&A with Martin Kjærbo, its VP of operations and supply chain, about adaptations to the company’s robotics manufacturing operations in the wake of COVID-19—and how the crisis will shape UR going forward.

Kjærbo said UR began preparing for the possible impact of the virus on the manufacturing supply chain in January and were prepared when the U.S. implemented stay-at-home orders.

“Many of our R&D engineers have been able to set up labs in their own garages,” he said in the Q&A. “We sent robots home with them and it’s a setup that has actually worked surprisingly well, especially since they are also able to use and collaborate through some of the UR+ simulation software tools available.”

UR, like the majority of global manufacturers, faced a supply chain disruption. The robot manufacturer has a dual-source supply chain in place—a solution many companies will consider after the pandemic if they didn’t already have them—and he said that was one of the most important lessons UR has learned during the pandemic. Kjærbo said that moving forward, his company will consider earlier purchasing of raw material and will take a look at second-, third- and fourth-tier suppliers.

The company’s production lines in Denmark were required to change from one- to two-shift operation, so as to physically spread out its workforce enough to maintain the six-feet social distancing regulation. Another consideration: safely feeding employees in the company cafeteria.

“Spreading the workforce out over two shifts also means less people in the cafeteria at the same time, said Kjærbo. “At headquarters, we ask production staff to break in small groups, all meals are pre-plated with disposable cutlery, the buffet is gone to avoid cross-contamination.”

UR also implemented cobots into its assembly lines to compensate for the reduced number of employees and take over more tasks, adding more automation on the line.

“I think we will emerge from this forever changed,” said Kjærbo. “On the bright side, this has been a big wake-up call that has spurred an amazing amount of production adaptability and increased focus on securing healthy work environments.”

Sponsored Recommendations

Agile design thinking: A key to operation-level digital transformation acceleration

May 7, 2024
Digital transformation, aided by agile design thinking, can reduce obstacles to change. Learn about 3 steps that can guide success.

Can new digital medium voltage circuit breakers help facilities reduce their carbon footprint?

May 7, 2024
Find out how facility managers can easily monitor energy usage to create a sustainable, decarbonized environment using digital MV circuit breakers.

The Digital Thread: End-to-End Data-Driven Manufacturing

May 1, 2024
Creating a Digital Thread by harnessing end-to-end manufacturing data is providing unprecedented opportunities to create efficiencies in the world of manufacturing.

Medical Device Manufacturing and Biocompatible Materials

May 1, 2024
Learn about the critical importance of biocompatible materials in medical device manufacturing, emphasizing the stringent regulations and complex considerations involved in ensuring...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!