Automatica 2016: Day One

23 June 2016

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Automatica 2016 is the leading trade fair for industrial automation and mechatronics held in Munich, Germany. Wiley Process Engineer, Heath Barker, has a passion for robotics and automation is attending the event. We love sharing knowledge from these events with our network to help us all reach peak performance and ensure our global food security into the future.

On day one I’ve come to realise the sheer scale of Automatica, with six football field sized halls full to the brim with robots and automation, it is massive and I can’t help but feel very excited. There were robots lifting and rotating entire cars over my head, robots moving so fast my camera could not film them, micro robots the size of my palm installing 2mm long pins into tiny holes at about 2 pins per second. There were even a few service robots that vacuum the floors and change all the bins in an office (a fair step up from my Neato at home).

I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with Kuka, who invited me to attend with them.


This is Kuka’s new small 3kg payload robot, the KR 3 Agilus which looks to fill a niche market for compact 600×600 robot cell (cage) size.

automatica_day_one_1Kuka had a standard high speed robot in a cage with one wall replaced with a light curtain (laser cage that when touched, automatically stops the robot). The cool thing was, they had installed a pressure pad under the robot to perform two functions:

  1. The robot can pass items through the light curtain at slow, safe speed and if it hits something, it will stop to avoid hurting/damaging the object/person.
  2. The robot can be taught tasks by physically moving it like you would on other physically taught robots.

The application I see for this new type of robot is for random QA inspection of bulky or heavy products while maintaining a high speed line. Cobots are usually very slow, this model is seeking the best of both worlds.

automatica_day_one_2I ordered a personalised iPhone cover from Kuka, where I did not interact with a single human through the process and nor did my iPhone cover!

  1. Order from iPad.
  2. Order is dispatched from a Swisslog mini ASRS warehouse setup.
  3. Product is transported via AGV (automated guided vehicle), with a robot arm attached, to a printing station and then to a holding area.
  4. Email sent when cover is ready for collection.
  5. Return and scan QR code on the email received.
  6. Another robot (cage free) picked it up and handed it to me!

Very cool example of Industry 4.0 and automated custom item fabrication, storage and despatch.

I had another experience with zero human interaction: coffee ordering.

I ordered a coffee to my liking from my iPhone by scanning my cup’s QR code and putting it in the robot cell. A robot placed the cup into the coffee machine, a second robot added milk and placed the coffee cup in a collection point. I was emailed when it was ready for pickup.

We are very close to having individual customised products that can be provided for a similar price and speed as mass produced stuff. Exciting.

automatica_day_one_3Kuka had two VR headsets to demonstrate a 3D animated robot cell that you could look around and get a feel of scale. The experience was quite jittery but still exciting to see. There have been many stalls with VR headsets and there is one in particular that I hope to trial tomorrow.

After the show I cheered on Germany in the UEFA Euro 2016 with the Kuka team. There would have been 150 people at the Kuka booth for the game! Behind me in the picture are the Aussies. The guy in the middle behind me is Greg Sale (our KUKA contact that invited us to the show and their factory) Germany won so that was pretty cool. Check out my cheek. Go Germany!

heath3To discuss your robotics and automation needs further, please contactHeath or Wiley.