Universal Robots has expanded its cobot portfolio with a new 30 kg (66.13 lb) payload cobot.
The UR30 is constructed on the same architecture of the UR2O and offers impressive lift and motion control in handling large payloads and at higher speeds, explained Kim Povlsen, president and CEO, Universal Robots, during a press briefing.
Povlsen set the context for the UR30’s unveiling by explaining that industries are embracing more agile manufacturing and modularity in production. Cobots offer the requisite agility and the UR30 can provide that despite its payload, he argued.
“What we’re seeing is that the industry or the industrial companies are investing pretty smartly and in the next five years,” Povlsen said. “There’s an expectation that at least a quarter of all the capital expenditure will go into automation. So, it’s a bright future for automation and, I would say, a wonderful place to be.”
Povlsen said new applications open the possibility for new opportunities in cobot design. “We’re finding with the technology we have available today, and in the next couple of years, there are more than 20 million automatable jobs out there that should be transformed by this type of cobot technology…We’re just getting started.”
Eliminate Dull, Dangerous and Dirty Work
UR’s mission, aside from helping businesses become more productive, is built around creating better workplaces, where the “dull, dangerous and dirty tasks are managed by collaborative automation and human beings do what they’re good at—creative thinking,” said Povlsen.
He said three aspects drive this mission at UR:
- Cobots are a platform that needs to be suited to the broadest possible range of tasks for driving new applications.
- Ease of use is a factor. The objective is to provide a software experience that makes working with robots an opportunity and a possibility for any business of any size.
- Growing the ecosystem. The company’s vision for enabling “automation for anyone, anywhere,” Povlsen said, can be achieved by collaborating with UR’s 1,200 partners who build application kits, turnkey solutions and components that serve automation work cells.
Who Will Do the Heavy Lifting?
Anders Billes Beck, vice president of Strategy and Innovation at Universal Robots, said UR recognized the need to develop a cobot with a higher payload than the UR20, considered to be the first of Universal Robots' next generation of industrial cobots.
“When it comes to lifting items that are heavier than 20 kilos, or where the space is a little bit more constrained, we found an entirely new niche of products,” Beck said. “Besides payload, flexibility is essential when you think about collaborative robots. This is what the UR30 offers. It’s compact in size.”
The UR30 is faster, smaller and stronger, than the UR20. A key specification that its reach is 1.3 meters, which is lower than UR20 but equivalent to the UR10e cobot. “It makes it perfect fit to applications where space is scarce, where it needs to fit in through tight spaces or when it needs to reach in various areas,” said Beck.
The UR30 also brings a new tool flange design to market. Beck explained that this was necessary to manage higher payloads and faster speeds. A new adapter flange was designed; however, users can continue to use existing tools that are compatible with the E series robots when running lower payload applications, at lower speeds.
In addition, new end-effectors based on the design bond for the UR20 are underway the UR30.
Notable Form Factors Include:
- High torque screw driving: The UR30 can handle larger and higher-output torque tools,
- Steady mode feature: The UR30 delivers straight and consistent screw driving, a feature that will be beneficial in the automotive industry
- 30kg payload: The additional payload makes the UR30 a good fit for material handling and palletizing of heavy products across industries.
- Small footprint: Weighing only 139 lbs (63.5 kg) and with a 245 millimeter diameter, the UR30 is flexible; it can be easily moved between work cells and mounted within existing infrastructures.
UR30 and UR20 are Siblings
Beck characterized the UR20 and UR30 as a “very beautiful as pair of siblings” and users will prefer one over the other. And while the UR30 does not have the long reach of the UR20 (which can stack pallets all the way up to truck loading height), it does bring a unique set of capabilities for specific tasks and applications.
The UR30 will do well at tending machines, particularly in collaboration with CNC machines, where high efficiency and high throughput are valued. The high payload brings new possibilities as it allows the cobot to use multiple grippers at the same time. The cobot can remove finished parts and load more material in a single pass, shortening changeover times and maximizing productivity.
The UR30 is also earmarked for material handling and palletizing applications, where palletizing, stacking, loading and unloading heavy parts typically have load limits around 50 lb. “The UR30 can manage that quite comfortably,” said Beck.
A key growth area, according to Beck, is using cobots to alleviate manual labor. High torque screw driving, for example, is strenuous, tedious work, he said. The UR30 is specifically designed to withstand that strain and comes with a steady mode feature, which allows the UR30 to withstand high torque, deliver straight and consistent screw driving, all without exposing any safety risk to the people around the cobot.
Ready for Active Duty
The UR30 cobot was unveiled at the iREX trade fair in Tokyo on Nov. 29, where it demonstrated its material handling and machine tending and high torque screw driving capabilities.
The UR30 is expected to ship in Q1 of 2024, Povlsen said during the press call.
Headquartered in Odense, Denmark, Universal Robots, introduced the first commercially viable cobot in 2008 and has sold more than 75,000 cobots worldwide. The company’s North American headquarters is in Novi, Mich.
Full technical information is available on the Universal Robots website.