One week on and having had some time to reflect, I’m still blown away with what I saw at SPS IPC Drives in Nuremberg and how those innovations will carry over, not just in manufacturing, but in the real world too. Last week I mostly talked about the size and scale of the exhibition, this week I’d like to talk about one of the exhibits. In the February issue of Power Systems Design I’ll go into a bit more detail, so please look out for that.
The most eye-catching exhibits at industrial exhibitions are usually the robots. It is easy to lose time just watching the robots being put through their paces. SPS IPC Drives was no exception, and many of the exhibitors had robots on show. These ranged from delta-styled pick-and-place robots to autonomous robots that take goods around the workplace, to the manufacturing robots we see in many factories. There were large and small types of robots for what seemed like every application. But one company thought even that variety wasn’t nearly comprehensive enough.
Infineon is no robot manufacturer, but the quickly expanding market for robots definitely provides an interesting opportunity for the company’s power, control and sensor products. Instead of taking the normal route of approaching robotic manufacturers to sell more components (or maybe in addition to, Infineon didn’t make that particular point clear), the company decided that the current range of off-the-shelf robot types wasn’t sufficient, and that there is a huge opportunity in the market for custom robots.
Infineon is now working on both the hardware components and the support network to provide customers with the building blocks to manufacture their own robots that are dedicated to the needs of each individual task, which is a refreshing change from making the task suit the robot’s capabilities. At the Infineon stand, the company showed off one of the first of these robotic prototypes, which was build by Kewazo, a spin-off from the Technical University of Munich. Infineon and Kewazo have worked together to build a scaffold toting robot that could help reduce the manpower required to move around the scaffolding during the building phase. The prototype was at quite an early stage of development, but it was a new concept that was quite different from everything else at the exhibition. The final stage of the concept is to provide the tools to non-specialised engineering staff to build robots to their own needs.
It is an interesting take on the market, and one that I look forward to writing more about in February and the future.