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Growth in Malaysia’s Automotive Industry Drives Deployment of Collaborative Robots in 2021
April 6, 2021 News


Universal Robots (UR), Denmark-based collaborative robots (cobots) technology market leader, urged local manufacturers in the automotive industry to explore new opportunities for the use of robotic solutions in the automotive manufacturing facilities.

Under the National Automotive Policy (NAP) 2020, Malaysia’s automotive manufacturing industry is expected to contribute RM104.2 billion to GDP by 2030. NAP 2020’s blueprint also outlined initiatives and strategies on robotics, targeting 730 new system integrators comprising 350 in robotics and 380 in IoT to be established by 2030. Meanwhile, the Malaysian Automotive, Robotics, and IoT Institute (MARii) expects the automotive industry, including Mobility as a Service (MaaS), to contribute up to 10% of GDP. The industry is forecasted to produce 1.47 million vehicles annually, offering 323,000 employment opportunities.

The automotive industry was one of the earliest adopters of traditional industrial robots and one of the earliest widespread adopters of cobots. In Malaysia, there are 129 robots per 10,000 workers at automobile plants compared to 19 robots per 10,000 workers across all other industries.

“Today, automation penetrates almost every aspect of auto production, from parts and sub-assembly production at Tier 1 and 2 suppliers to the final product rolling off the line at production facilities. Universal Robots’ cobots are finding increasing traction in automotive production due to their flexibility, small footprint, rapid return on investment, and consistent performance,” said James McKew, Regional Director of Asia-Pacific in Universal Robots.

According to the International Federation of Robotics, cobots experienced more growth than traditional industrial robots whereby installations grew by 11%, reaching a 4.8% market share of the total of 373,000 industrial robots installed in 2019.

“Although several parts of automotive manufacturing have been highly automated for decades, there are tasks, especially on the assembly side, that remain “highly dependent on manual labour,” said McKew. He pointed out that tasks such as screw driving where the flexibility and small footprint of UR’s cobots could significantly benefit local automakers.

In highly regulated sectors such as automotive manufacturing, traceability is key. Cobots help manufacturers control and track key production processes such as ensuring precise torque is applied to screws when mounted to a car key.

“We see our cobots being used in the automotive sector for quality inspection, small part assembly, dispensing, and finishing applications. Our goal is to enable the automotive industry to deploy UR’s cobots in every part of the manufacturing process,” said McKew.

“One of the major benefits of cobots is its flexibility. They can be mounted in any orientation and can be deployed alongside humans without safety cages (upon risk assessment),” explained McKew. This is unlike traditional industrial robots which are bolted down in a cage, often dedicated to a single task.

With the rapid development of automotive market, China-based manufacturer Beijing BAI Lear Automotive System Co., Ltd. has seen its capacity steadily expanding in recent years. An effective automation solution means minimal delay in production with the shortest adaption period between workers and new equipment. Through partnership with Universal Robots, BAI Lear leverages the advantages of human-machine collaboration and industrial automation through the deployment of 38 UR cobots, used mainly for car seat screw tightening, electrical inspection, parts picking and placing, as well as other processes.

“As a manufacturing enterprise, we have been receiving higher requirements from our clients every year, so we have to constantly enhance our production process control, guarantee stable productivity and improve conformity of production. The introduction of UR cobots meets the above requirements while improving our factory production and personnel flexibility,” said Song Xiaohui, General Manager of BAI Lear.

“Today, drastic changes are taking place in the global automotive industry. Local manufacturers and suppliers must be prepared for changes in their production layout to address the changes in customer demands. Precision, efficiency, and flexibility have become key factors in the industry,” concluded McKew.