Plant & Works Engineering

Industrial robot technology area takes centre stage at Drives & Controls Exhibition 2016

Published:  02 March, 2016

The Drives & Controls Exhibition & Conference at the NEC, Birmingham, between the 12-14th April 2016 will, for the first time, also include a dedicated area where some of the latest industrial robot technology will be demonstrated. Interest in robotics is growing rapidly as prices come down and capabilities increase. The technology is moving ahead incredibly quickly and the show organiser believes the time is right for a robotics demonstration area at the event.

The demo has attracted many big names including: ABB Robotics, Applied Engineering, B&R, Harmonic Drive AG, Mitsubishi, Universal Robot, RA Rodriguez, Staubli, Active8 Robots Ltd.

The UK has been accused of lagging behind the rest of the world in the widespread uptake of robotic technology. Companies such as Harmonic Drive says it intends to support efforts by both Drives & Controls 2016 and government investments by offering products, advice and support to drive the growth of the industry as a whole.

Graham Mackrell, managing Director of Harmonic Drive UK commented: “We’re also starting to see drive from the Government’s RAS 2020 initiative to boost the robotics and autonomous systems sector in the UK and the £400 million investment in innovation. This investment will see an upswing in things like collaborative robot technology as well as more advanced medical robots.

“Collaborative robots are designed to work alongside the human workforce, and to ensure they meet evolving International Standards Organisation (ISO) criteria as well as being responsive enough to react should they cross paths with a person. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need to ensure the drives and gears they choose can perform reliably.”

There will be several examples of the new generation of “collaborative” robots at The Drives & Controls Exhibition – or “cobots” – designed to operate safely alongside human workers, without needing a protective cage.

For example, robots from the Danish cobot pioneer, Universal Robots, will be demonstrated by the company’s UK distributor, RA Rodriguez.

Yaskawa, is one of the latest exhibitors to sign up. As well as sharing a large stand with its Vipa controls subsidiary, Yaskawa will also take part in the show’s robot demonstration zone. Another new arrival in this zone is Baxter, the two-armed collaborative robot developed by US-based Rethink Robotics. Baxter, which has a distinctive “face” display, will be demonstrated by Rethink’s UK distributor, Active8 Robots.

Also showing some of its robots will be Mitsubishi Electric (in addition to its main stand). The robotics area is now almost full.

The growing importance of robots will also be emphasised within the free seminar programme with presentations covering topics such as dispelling the risks, fears and unknowns of modem day robotics; as well looking into the trend for removing the guarding from robotic cells, and understanding the practical advantages and disadvantage of robotic applications and what the physical, practical, technical and regulatory constraints can be. While Mike Wilson of BARA will present a paper on the ‘The impact of automation on motion control ‘.

For regular updates on Drives & Controls Exhibition and for detailed seminar information, please visit the official website: