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Feasibility study for Bendsai – world’s first standardised machine tending robot

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Bendsai (Feasibility study for Bendsai – world’s first standardised machine tending robot)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2017-08-31

Only 8% of European manufacturing companies had integrated robotic solutions in 2016 1 . Existing robotic solutions are unaffordable for SMEs and thus most still rely on ineffective traditional manufacturing devices. Machine tending robots can increase efficiency and safety of operations, but are only available custom made by robotic integrators and are expensive, hard to use and difficult to integrate. There is a market demand for standardized machine tending robots that would be feasible and affordable for manufacturing SMEs. Currently, there are no such commercially available robots on the market.

Factobotics seeks to become the first robotic supplier focused on developing and commercialising standardised machine tending robots. To achieve this, Factobotics has developed the first standardized metal sheet bending machine tending robot Bendsai. It will revolutionise the machine tending robot industry and provide a roadmap for future introduction of other standardized machine tending robots.

Bendsai (TRL 7) can be used to automate operation and feeding of any bending machine and will replace heavy human physical labor in metal sheet bending industry. Bendsai is user friendly, requires a short changeover time, is significantly cheaper than alternatives (40K vs 100K), requires zero integration costs, provides a quick ROI (up to 2 months), is mobile, compact and can easily switch between assignments.
The successful implementation of the project showed a great potential for the solution. The tasks performed during the SME Phase 1 project showed that Bendsai robots can be commercially feasible and there is significant interest from both press brake manufacturers and metal processing plants. Despite the market growth and favorable conditions identified in the market research, there are no comparable standardized industry robots currently on the market. Thus European metal processing factories and metal bending machine manufacturers interviewed for the user research expressed their interest in adopting Bendsai robots as it would lead to easier operation, shorter changeover time, reduced costs and a quick ROI. During the feasibility study Factobotics redesigned their business model in accordance to the feedback collected from press brake manufacturers and metal processing plants. This in turn resulted in 3 companies ordering the subscription model of the solution and a distribution partnership with the largest automation company in Denmark.

However, a few steps additional steps have to be taken to ensure the commercial success of Bendsai robots. First of all, final technical adjustments have to be implemented, more sales and service partnerships need to be established in other regions and additional investments should be raised for the upcoming company scaleup. Therefore Factobotics plans to apply for SME Instrument Phase 2 funding.
After successful introduction of Bendsai Factobotics will seek to develop and introduce other affordable standardised machine tending robots. By introducing Bendsai and other standardised robotic solutions, Factobotics will make robots more accessible for manufacturing SMEs and will increase robotisation of the European manufacturing industry. This will boost the productivity and competitiveness of the industry by replacing ageing workforce and creating new higher added value jobs. Bendsai will be the first robot to disrupt the current market by providing a standardized machine tending robot. Later other standardized robots will be released for metal stamping and holing as well as standard CNC turning and milling centers. All of these machines will target metal processing companies as their main clients, but Factobotics will remain open for other types of clients as well.

European manufacturing industry is one of the pillars of the European economy, accounting for 2 million enterprises, 33 million jobs and 60% of productivity growth. However, it is struggling to compete with emerging low-cost industries like China, Russia and the Middle East. Spread of robotics would make the industry more competitive add would add more than €110 billion of annual revenue in Europe in the next five years. Robotics would also help fulfill EU’s ambition to push manufacturing to 20% of GDP by 2020. Importance of robotics for EU manufacturing is reflected in EC initiatives I4MS and Factory of the Future. Robotisation also creates additional jobs, with 1 new job in manufacturing industry, creating 4 new service jobs.
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