Collaborative dual-arm robot will be used in small parts assembly to help increase UK productivity

ABB has launched YuMi, a collaborative dual-arm robot, to the UK market. Aimed initially at the 3C (Computer, Communication and Consumer electronics), toys and watch-making industries, YuMi has no barriers, cages or zones. Its padded arms and motion control technology enable YuMi to work side-by-side with humans safely.The collaborative robot is able to assist in small parts assembly tasks whilst employees can either work with YuMi or apply their production skills to another part of the process. As YuMi’s capabilities become more widely recognised, the robot will open up more opportunities in other industrial sectors. However, the robot has been primarily developed to meet the flexible and agile production needs of the consumer electronics industry. With integrated hands comprised of 2-finger grippers and embedded cameras, YuMi can efficiently handle the small components typical of this environment.
The UK electronics industry is the fifth largest in the world with an annual turnover of £78 billion, a total of 6,000 businesses and 800,000 employees. Benefitting from YuMi’s many features would strengthen the UK electronics industry through improved productivity, lower costs and a quicker response to the global market. Despite rising employment figures, UK productivity has grown by just 0.6% each year between 2010 and 2015. This has made it difficult for UK companies to compete with countries of a higher output such as Germany, France and the U.S.
Germany also has a much higher level of robot automation than the UK with 20,100 units recorded in 2014 compared to the UK’s 2,094. A study conducted by the Copenhagen Business School titled “Automation, labor productivity and employment – a cross country comparison” found that if the UK were to match the most automated countries, productivity could increase by 22.3%1. In the electronics industry in particular, the UK could increase productivity by 24.2%2 if it matched Japan, the most productive country in this industry.

YuMi is part of ABB’s strategy to provide a solution to the UK’s productivity puzzle. However, the nature of today’s electronic consumer demands means that quick changeovers of products are a necessity whilst the internet of things or ‘Industry 4.0’ means that customers expect high quality, low cost items in a short time span. YuMi helps to overcome this. Its table mounted lightweight design means YuMi is easily moved to different stages of the production process whilst YuMi’s speed makes it faster than most other collaborative robots. With a velocity of 1500mm per second and the ability to return to the same point within 0.02mm of accuracy, YuMi makes high quality, fast production possible.
Furthermore, YuMi’s lead through programming capabilities provide ease of use as employees can teach the robot through demonstration in a minimal amount of time. Historically ABB robots have been programmed using teach pendants or coding but this new method reduces the complexity to a level that is user-friendly. Combined with its adaptable grippers, this means that the YuMi can be programmed to perform new tasks quickly and efficiently.
In addition to its suitability for small parts assembly applications, YuMi has been designed for use in camera-based inspection, parts-feeding, packaging and testing. To find out more, please email or call 01908 350300, ref. ‘YuMi’.