KUKA posts record robot sales despite challenging year

23 Dec 2020

KUKA Robotics in the UK and Ireland has posted the strongest annual sales figures in the company’s history, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis and the consequential recession. The group attributes the success to its proven sales strategies and to four main strategic factors that combined to make 2020 a record year.

With the rise of e-mobility, driven by customer demand for green modes of transportation, the automotive sector has undergone big changes in vehicle design and propulsion. KUKA has been at the forefront of automation for e-mobility production and a big cause for celebration was a large order from commercial electric vehicle manufacturer Arrival, a new company with a unique production model.

Every Arrival vehicle is produced in a relatively small and low cost “microfactory”, each of which can produce 10,000 vans or 1,000 buses per year. The company has already announced an order of 10,000 electric vans from logistics company UPS, with the option for a further 10,000; production in the UK is now supported by Arrival’s first US microfactory, in York County, South Carolina.

KUKA UK is supplying the robots for Arrival’s rising demand, across the world. CNBC reported in November 2020 that Arrival was aiming to build three to four of these factories a year; each serving a city and its community, linked in a global framework. The potential for future use of robotics and automation from KUKA is very promising.

“The UK automotive sector faces big challenges, but electrification is coming fast and, with winning the Arrival contract, I am confident that KUKA is very well placed to capitalise on this growth market,” says KUKA’s specialist automotive account manager, Paul Williams.

KUKA UK appointed Williams in late 2019. With a strong track record in automotive robot applications, he has already made big in-roads into the sector.

“KUKA is embedded in the big car plants in Germany, but we are not as well-established in automotive in the UK, for legacy reasons,” Bernard Bagley, Head of Robot Sales, KUKA UK. “Paul and the Arrival contract are helping to change that.”

KUKA has restructured its sales teams under General Industry to cover sectors and regions simultaneously and efficiently. Now, every sales manager targets an industry sector as well as a geographic footprint.

Along with KUKA’s System Partner model of partnering with specialist integrators, the approach is much more customer-facing. KUKA brings projects to its System Partners and vice-versa; KUKA sales engineers and System Partners always “walk the floor” to help advise on optimum automation strategies and act as a trusted advisor.

“This change has generated a lot more interaction with end-customers, which has always been our goal,” says Bernard. “Our System Partners provide this customer focus and our restructured sales team is now doing the same.”

Thirdly, KUKA has crystallised its strategy for Education and Research and Development. KUKA has always believed in the fundamental need for appropriately skilled operators, technicians and engineers to extract the best out of automated machines, assembly lines and research projects.

KUKA UK and Ireland have invested heavily in supporting the education and research sectors and have developed dedicated educational robot cells and training material, alongside bespoke research cells focussed on emerging technologies.

For more information on KUKA UK, visit: www.kuka.com/en-gb