Reeco becomes first OMRON Solution Partner in collaboration to build cobot solutions that de-risk projects and maximise ROI
OMRON has appointed system integrator Reeco Automation as a specialist partner for collaborative robots, as the two companies look to work together to develop cobot solutions that address real industry needs. Reeco becomes the first company in the new OMRON Solution Partner (OSP) network that aims to develop and de-risk complex automation projects.
Sam Tilley, industry solutions manager at OMRON, explains: “The OSP network provides a tight link between the end user, the system integrator and the technology vendor, taking the investment risk out of projects for the end user, and enabling us to develop solutions that address real-world automation challenges.”
He stresses that the rationale for the OSP network is much more than simply certifying that partner companies have experience in OMRON products. “It is about developing relationships with experts in specific technologies where we can jointly develop and collaboratively market automation solutions,” he says.
“There is a perception that manufacturing companies in this country are unwilling to invest in automation, but that’s not the case,” adds Tilley. “UK manufacturers want innovative automation solutions, but they need the reassurance that they’re investing in the right technologies and working with partners who will take the risk out of that investment.”
The partnership between OMRON and Reeco brings that ethos to cobot applications, with Reeco having a renowned history of providing cobot solutions that increase productivity whilst reducing production costs. Managing director Llewelyn Rees comments: “The affordability and ease of programming of cobots has generated tremendous interest among end users in sectors such as automotive, pharmaceuticals, packaging, electronics and others. But often the cobot itself is just a small part of the project, and that can make companies fearful of making the investment.
“The role of the system integrator is to bring it all together, and that works best when we have a working relationship with the technology vendor that extends beyond just the supply of products. OMRON has a deep understanding of customer requirements, and brings a wealth of project knowledge; it’s the ‘magic triangle’ where the end user, the system integrator and the technology vendor are all bringing value to the project.”
Tilley adds: “The partnership is industry-driven, creating solutions for the market. If customers come to us looking for a cobot solution, they have the assurance that we are working with a partner company that’s an expert in the technology and in the customer’s sector – that together we will de-risk the project and deliver maximum return on investment.”
But the close collaboration between the two companies means that they are not just developing solutions reactively in response to specific customer requests, but rather highlighting areas where manufacturers could invest in automation to the greatest benefit, and jointly developing those solutions. Rees explains: “Where we see opportunities, we can build a demonstration production line – a simulation of a potential customer’s production environment – and show what the cobot solution can offer. With that proof of concept, we can reassure the customer that it’s a sound investment.”
With this new partnership, OMRON and Reeco are developing cobot solutions for markets where interest in the technology is already strong, and both are seeing high levels of growth. “Once a manufacturer has a cobot installed, it becomes the norm,” says Rees.
Further, he believes that the challenges driven by the Covid-19 crisis will only accelerate the take-up of cobots within industry. “New restrictions around worker density within production environments is creating a unique challenge, where numbers of operators would typically be working in close proximity on a given task. But cobots can create space on the line so that people can work further apart without any compromise on productivity.”
With Reeco now in place as its solutions partner for cobots, OMRON is now looking to grow the OSP network with integrator partners for other key technology areas, including safety, vision, industrial robots and mobile/autonomous systems. The goal in each case is to find partners who, like Reeco, can bring benefits to, and remove risk from, large and complex automation projects, and who can address the needs of customers not just nationally, but internationally, with automation solutions that are applicable across borders.