From idea to integration: igus’ partner network supports customers with low cost automation

igus is working with manufacturers and integrators to further expand its service and range for cost-effective automation.

Robot manufacturers, component providers, integrators: the individual puzzle pieces are used to create a low-cost automation solution tailored to the customer that pays off in three to 12 months (Image: igus)

Low cost automation reduces the barriers to getting started with automation and gives special assistance to small and medium-sized companies in increasing their competitiveness. To this end, igus has built up a broad network of 55 robotics providers and 40 integrators over the past three years, with new partners constantly added to the mix.

As a result of continuous developments and product innovations, affordable robotics has become especially interesting for small and medium-sized companies. And the number of offers on the market is increasing. For instance, igus low cost automation represents a broad portfolio of articulated arm, linear, delta and SCARA robots. Product modularity means that single components or individual complete solutions can be assembled according to the build-or-buy principle. The focus is always on a low entry-level price and quick payback. This is where igus high-performance plastics play to their strengths. They are tribologically optimised and especially durable, lightweight, lubrication-free and maintenance-free, and cost-effective to produce.

A cost-effective solution that works

Over the past three years, igus has built up a broad, constantly growing partner network. As part of the LCA partner programme, the comapny works with integrators who provide customers with additional expertise, experience with end customer projects, and joint project experience.

Alexander Mühlens, head of business unit low cost automation, said: “We started with seven partners around two years ago, and we now have almost 100. In order to refer interested parties to competent integration partners in their area, we are constantly expanding our network. Together, we can offer our customers a wide range of automation solutions — focusing on applications with a total investment volume of less than €45,000. We work with our customers to select the ideal integrator for the application in order to find the best and most cost-effective solution.”

Typical services include integrating a control system into existing machines, setting up and commissioning robots, evaluating safety measures or, if there is simply no capacity, providing the capability of assembling machines on site.

Experience low cost automation live on site

Like igus, many integrators have set up a customer testing area so that customers can experience igus Low Cost Automation live.

“Nothing is more convincing than being able to experience robot programming or gripper adaptations yourself on site in just 30 minutes. That’s why we have over 30 customer visits a week in Cologne alone”, said Mühlens.

The range of test areas is wide: from a delta robot cell at ITQ in Garching near Munich to a 150-sq-metre area with four robots and linear robot axes at Provitec near Heilbronn, as well as a 1,400-sq-metre customer testing area at Truphysics in Stuttgart with 300 sq metres of space for igus products. With its own low cost automation roadshow, igus is working with the integrator partners to organise events or visit customers directly on site.

“We have already organised roadshow events in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, attracting a total of around 3,500 visitors. The aim of the roadshow is to always automate directly on site,” added Mühlens.

RBTX online marketplace

Since 2019, users have also had access to the igus RBTX marketplace, an online marketplace that brings users and manufacturers of low-cost robotics together.

Mühlens commented: “At RBTX, interested parties can currently find compatible components from a total of 78 partners. The marketplace currently has 100 low-cost applications with parts lists and hardware and software compatibility for price transparency. As an open marketplace, we are always interested in new partners for the low-cost robotics mission, so that we can ultimately provide interested parties with even more individual solutions for their specific application.”

Partners benefit from a new digital sales channel and can expand their customer base and open up new markets — a win for everyone involved.