Redefining automation: a collaborative ecosystem
Universal Robots (UR) is a company built on collaboration. An extensive ecosystem of independent businesses has grown around UR’s cobot technology creating a fertile ground for innovation, choice for customers and a wide range of components, kits and solutions to suit every application.
The different elements of the ecosystem
There are four main parts of the UR ecosystem: UR+, our distributor network, our certified system integrators, and our original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Overall, Universal Robots has over 1,100 partners globally. But how does the ecosystem work?
At UR, we know that no company has the capability to understand such an expansive industry on its own. By creating the world’s first ecosystem of approved UR+ partners, we have built a platform to work with third parties who are experts in their fields of technology. These partners create new and innovative components and application kits for each business’ unique needs.
The UR+ platform now includes over 300 UR+ partners and over 400 certified UR+ components, application kits and solutions. As a platform, UR+ allows customers to browse tools compatible with UR cobots. It also helps distributors, integrators and OEMs to work with customers to find and select just the right products for the job.
UR+ includes a growing number of UR+ solutions – all-in-one packages which provide a proven standard solution to solve customers’ problems. These solutions contain a UR cobot, hardware, and software as well as installation service, a manual, operational support and training. For some of industry’s most common application needs, these UR+ solutions provide a turn-key approach for straightforward and effective automation.
Universal Robots has a global network of distribution partners ready to help businesses take the first steps toward automation. With dedicated technical sales and access to highly-qualified robotic engineers, these distributors can support businesses from enquiry through to technical support.
Customers who are interested in buying a cobot will usually be contacted by an approved distributor within their region. The distributor’s task is to really get to know the business’ operations and figure out how cobots can best assist them. They can then offer advice on what applications would be best suited to the company’s operations, suggesting tooling or products from the UR+ platform to make sure the deployment is right, and ultimately successful.
Once the cobots have been deployed, the distributors are on hand to provide expert advice and support, as well as training on certain parts of the system.
Certified System Integrators (CSIs) are mainly regionally based and exist to create applications, often integrating multiple pieces of hardware and software for the end customer.
CSIs do this by offering engineering consultancy and ‘turn-key’ project delivery to end-customers that want to establish robots within their operations – for example, on a manufacturing production line.
Typically, customers will use CSIs because they know what they want but not how to get there. CSIs fill in those gaps for them, fully supporting and being accountable for the integration phase and providing training and support to end-customers.
Integrators are specialists in the applications they offer. They are therefore able to focus their deep knowledge of specific processes and industries to offer customized systems and specialist industrial applications such as screw driving, polishing, bin-picking, gluing, assembly and grinding. These applications are often integrated through the CSI, including a Programable Logic Controller, communication protocols and, increasingly, predictive maintenance.
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) see the value of UR’s cobot technology and build equipment that takes advantage of this.
These companies add significant value by creating customizations or new applications and products around the arm. This means that they provide full solutions for their customers, incorporating not only the core cobot/automation technology from UR, but also a specialist extension on the end of it – from welding to sanding.
OEMs are carefully selected against our criteria which, among other things, state that they must match UR’s technology capabilities. The end-products created by OEMs are sold under the label of the OEMs themselves rather than the UR network. OEMs are creating solutions for a range of applications including palletizing, machine tending and welding.
THE VALUE OF THE ECOSYSTEM
A main strength of the UR ecosystem lies in the hundreds of partners in the UR+ network. The size of the platform creates a fertile ground for driving innovation while maintaining high standards, encouraging collaboration and creativity that benefits customers. The UR+ platform has led to the creation of technology that would not have been considered possible two decades ago.
While other manufacturers opt to make their own end-effectors, we acknowledge that collaboration brings strength and expertise. The ecosystem approach is our higher-quality solution as it is allows us to collaborate with brilliant engineers with specific areas of expertise. This in turn inspires creativity and ensures the highest possible quality of cobot end-effectors and add-ons. All UR+ products are certified as compatible and easily integrated with UR cobots. This makes finding the right tool easier for the customer..
Providing choice and ease for end-customers
The sheer size and diversity of the UR+ portfolio of products mean that customers can find whatever they are after, from the right tool for their application to a full cobot solution, through the platform.
More choice means customers will be able to seek out an exact match for their specific needs. In a broader sense, it means a more dynamic ecosystem, with partners jostling to outdo each other or find underserviced niches – this means that quality continues to rise while the offer to customers becomes more extensive all the time.
Operating close to the customer
The UR ecosystem has a global presence. Operating close to the customer, distributors, integrators and OEMs are often uniquely well-placed to understand the needs of individual customers and their industries.
Throughout the customer journey, UR is available to help identify the most suitable partners on the road to deployment and stands ready to provide training, customer support and service to support customer success.
Future of the ecosystem
The ecosystem is constantly evolving based on feedback from partners and customers, helping to solve customer applications and improve processes through the introduction of better and well-developed products. The UR ecosystem promises an incredible future of new solutions and opportunities for customers and partners.
Opportunity and necessity continue to drive innovation and, with our ecosystem, there is no limit to the imaginative ways we can bring robots alongside humans into the world of work and improve both working lives and performance.
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