As the manufacturing industry goes through digital transformation, automation is playing an important role in optimizing production lines. Collaborative robots, which are designed to work alongside humans on the factory floor, are rapidly gaining pace as part of the Digital Transformation of industries.
The collaborative robot market is projected to generate revenue of $9.13 billion by 2024 and projected to grow at a compound annual growth (CAGR) of 58.8 percent in terms of value, according to market intelligence and advisory firm BIS Research1. ABB is already writing the future of industries with its range of collaborative robots or ‘cobots,’ that are enabling customers to maximize productivity and efficiency while also maintaining safety of humans.
For generations, large industrial robots have been installed with physical barriers such as fences, to ensure safety of workers. But flexible collaborative robots, which are easier and cheaper to install, are bringing in a new era of automation. With technological advances, collaborative robots are also becoming more intuitive, being able to assemble intricate parts and work in production lines that require low volume and high mix.
To further enhance the use of these collaborative robots, the development of intelligent software features that will add smarter capabilities to these robots is vital. Being a global technology leader, ABB is always working to innovate and improve its products to adapt to technological changes while also adding value to its customers. The latest example of this is ABB’s investment in Sweden-based, early-stage robotics solution and software startup MTEK through its venture capital unit, ABB Technology Ventures (ATV).
Writing the future of industries
MTEK develops and deploys software, solutions and services for real-time intelligent and collaborative production, with a special focus on adaptive automation, digitalization and virtualization of small parts assembly processes. MTEK’s software intelligence and hardware are a great fit for ABB’s YuMi, the most collaborative robot in the industry for small parts assembly.
“ABB Technology Ventures partners with breakthrough technology companies aligned with ABB’s goal to influence the future of industrial digitalization. We consider MTEK’s software and hardware solutions and services to be at the forefront of the digitization of production flows. They have a unique offering and ABB is pleased to enable the next step in MTEK’s market expansion,” said Malin Carlstrom, Senior Vice President, ABB Technology Ventures.
The investment, totaling 2 million euros from ATV and Almi Invest, an early-stage venture capital investor, will enable MTEK to accelerate commercialization of its software suite and automation solutions, and further develop its capabilities and products. Furthermore, the agreement will facilitate a deeper commercial relationship between ABB Robotics and MTEK within Industry 4.0.
“The investment by ABB Technology Ventures comes at a perfect time for MTEK. We are on the verge of an exciting expansion curve fueled by very positive customer response and traction in the market. We are now ready for full industrialization of our offering,” says Mattias Andersson, founder and CEO of MTEK.
Empowering collaborative robots
MTEK enables customers to extract value from data by virtualizing the cells and line and, by leveraging deep learning methodology, make automatic detection and correction of productions anomalies in real time. These capabilities, when applied to YuMi, further strengthen the robot’s position in the context of production and supply chain.
MTEK’s software, which covers the whole production chain, controls the entire process and flows including several systems, such as management execution system and robotics management system. On top of these capabilities, MTEK also produces cells that have features including vision capabilities and feeders. Both these software and hardware capabilities together empower the robots, enhancing their operations and understanding of interaction with the environment. The insightful information is then extracted and optimized to improve their performance, enhancing the intelligence of robots.
ATV’s investments are aligned with ABB’s goal to drive the Digital Transformation of Industries and drive technology leadership. Collaborating and investing in startups is one of the many ways in which ABB supports innovation.