Robotics providers ride advanced manufacturing wave

Robotics providers ride advanced manufacturing wave

Assembly-line and autonomous robots, and even 3D printers were on show at the RoboUniverse Singapore exhibition.

SINGAPORE:Advanced manufacturing is the new focus for the industry and robotics providers are stepping up to answer the call, a trend apparent at an exhibition held at Suntec Convention Centre on Friday (Jan 26).

One such company is Taiwan-based precision engineering firm Hiwin, who is participating at the exhibition, RoboUniverse Singapore. The firm's products include assembly-line robots and it is working with system integrators (SI) to see how local firms can use robots in their production.

Hiwin has operated a regional headquarters in Singapore for the past three years.

"Taiwan and Singapore are very similar in that we have a lot of small companies that do system integration," said Hiwin managing director Taddy Chen. "In Singapore if we can help these kinds of SI companies to help the manufacturing companies do the automation, there's some advantage and we can pick up on automation very fast. And we can get an advantage from automation."

Robotic mechanisation can also happen outside of the assembly line. US-based Adept Technology specialises in autonomous robots, which move parts and products around more efficiently. The company said that while its robots do not directly help in the manufacturing process, they have a role in the productivity push.

"The way we have been participating is by improving the processes involved in making things and not the things themselves," said managing director Swami Vangal-Ramamurthy. "For instance, in a silicon manufacturing plant, we are improving the way these things are handled and not at the silicon manufacturing level. We're focusing on improving the process and improving the productivity of the manufacturing rather than new advancement."

Adept Technology is also looking to introduce its robots in healthcare and hospitality, saying that robots do not just belong on the factory floor.

This 3D printer targeted at dentists can create teeth moulds used for making retainers. (Photo: Sherlyn Goh)

Also featured as part of a concurrent event was 3D printing. Most of the technology was marketed at consumers, while industrial application was not as apparent.

One of those working on 3D printing was Professor Jeng Jeng-Ywan from the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. He is currently working on a 3D printer that can work with a smartphone.

While cost is still the biggest factor for 3D printing, Prof Jeng noted that the macro trend was headed toward on-demand, customised products, which is where he believes 3D printing can find its place.

Source: CNA/hs