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Robots as accelerators of inclusion: How technology can enable people with disabilities for more participation

Gütersloh, Germany – The use of the latest robot technology enables people with disabilities for more participation in working life: That is the goal of a joint project between wertkreis Gütersloh gGmbH, Rethink Robotics GmbH and the University of Duisburg-Essen. For the start of the project, Rethink Robotics handed over two Sawyer cobots to the vocational training department of the wertkreis Gütersloh and the chair for manufacturing technology at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

The two collaborative robots (cobots) form the basis for the joint work in the area of “Inclusion 4.0 with collaborative systems”. The use of robot technology and cobots is intended to open up better opportunities for people with disabilities in inclusion, education and participation by means of adapted work processes and new types of applications.

The cobots’ areas of application include the implementation of quality controls directly at the assembly workstation as well as the automated processing of production peaks. The aim of the cooperation is to develop systems that enable people with disabilities or people without the ability to express themselves to carry out complex work assignments independently. A prerequisite for using these systems is that they must be easy to program. Cobot Sawyer fulfills these requirements with its intuitive operation and programming as well as its flexibility in use and friendly design.

“The areas of application for collaborative robotics are very diverse,” explains Daniel Bunse, CEO of Rethink Robotics. “Cobots can take on supporting activities in the company that are repeated very often. The cobot thus assists people in the workflow and relieves them physically. ”

Michael Buschsieweke, managing director of wertkreis Gütersloh gGmbH explains: “Exactly such digital forms of assistance are a future model for people with handicaps. Ideally, at some point they will be as natural as sight and walking aids. Simply a tool that enables people to participate in the labor market. We are pleased that with the Sawyer cobots we can introduce these techniques even better and strengthen competence and self-confidence in the context of use. ”

“Using workshops for people with disabilities as incubators for new systems is an approach with which we have had good experiences in the past,” says Holger Dander, project manager at the Department of Manufacturing Technology at the University of Duisburg-Essen. “In this environment, the focus must be placed on the human being so that the human-machine interaction works. Solutions that have proven themselves here can then be quickly and easily transferred to other areas of the working world.”

The Gütersloh social service provider wertkreis has been committed to a paradigm shift in dealing with digital assistance technology in integration assistance for several years. For the development of the DIAZ system, the East Westphalian inclusion specialists were nominated for the inclusion award of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia this year.

The scientists at the Department of Manufacturing Technology at the University of Duisburg-Essen have been working for several years on the question of how collaborative robotics can be integrated into work processes. In 2018 they were awarded the inclusion price of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Rethink Robotics establishes new company headquarters and production facility in Bochum and has a new shareholder in Siemens Technology Accelerator

Bochum, Germany – At the Bochum location, Rethink Robotics will develop new robotics technologies with the support of Siemens Corporate Technology, creating highly qualified jobs

In summer 2020, Rethink Robotics, as a subsidiary of the HAHN Group, moved into its new company headquarters, where the production of collaborative robot systems takes place as well. It is located in the immediate vicinity of the learning factory of the chair for production systems at Ruhr Universität Bochum. Now the location has been officially inaugurated in the presence of Bochum’s Lord Mayor Thomas Eiskirch and Bernd Tönjes, CEO of the RAG-Stiftung, which holds a majority stake in the HAHN Group through its holding company RSBG SE.

The premises are part of the new HAHN Group Technology Center, a meeting point for customers, partners and interested parties to experience and further develop innovative technologies. In the immediate vicinity of universities and research institutions, this creates a central place for the exchange of information, skills and technological developments. The building itself was constructed by sister companies of the HAHN Group within the RAG-Stiftung, accounting for the short-term space requirements and promoting further growth.

“The opening of the new corporate headquarters and production facility of Rethink Robotics symbolizes the transformation of the mining region into a location for future technologies. We supported the settlement from the start and are sure that Rethink Robotics will find an ideal environment here in order to continue their growth,” states Bernd Tönjes.

Rethink Robotics has already created 30 highly qualified jobs in Bochum. Their collaborative robot systems, which will be produced on-site, are used in manufacturing companies, as well as in in service applications for laboratory environments. Further investments in the development of the technology and the ongoing expansion of the team are planned for the future.

“Rethink Robotics made the right choice of location with Bochum,” says Mayor Thomas Eiskirch about the company’s decision to set up its new headquarters in Bochum and to create additional highly qualified jobs. “In Bochum, modern robot technology is already being developed and used in other areas to support people in everyday life. And in Bochum we like to rethink tasks that we face today and tomorrow. We like to think outside the box – with the aim of finding new, future-oriented answers.”

Another milestone for the development of the company at the Bochum location is the recently implemented cooperation between Rethink Robotics and Siemens Technology Accelerator (STA). STA acquired a minority of the shares in Rethink Robotics as part of a technology contribution. The contribution includes know-how, patents and designs in the field of innovative hardware solutions for lightweight robots and cobots. In addition, a development cooperation between Rethink Robotics and Siemens Corporate Technology was agreed upon, in which the Siemens Corporate Technology hardware solutions are to be further developed in a transition period so that their strengths are optimally combined with the Intera software from Rethink Robotics. The first studies on this are already running.

“With the technology from Siemens, we are getting closer to the start of a new series of robots very quickly and will be presenting a first prototype in spring 2021,” explains Daniel Bunse, CEO of Rethink Robotics GmbH, with pleasure.

Dr. Rudolf Freytag, CEO of Siemens Technology Accelerator GmbH, states: “We see great potential for success in this hardware technology developed by Siemens Corporate Technology and are pleased to be creating the best conditions for market success with Rethink Robotics. Siemens Digital Industries will of course continue to support the robotics sector with controls and innovative software solutions.”

 

About Siemens Corporate Technology

Corporate Technology (CT) is Siemens’ central research unit. In cooperation with the business units, CT advances the basic technologies that are important for the entire company. For more information visit https://new.siemens.com/global/en/company/innovation/research-development.html

 

About Siemens Technology Accelerator

Siemens Technology Accelerator GmbH is a subsidiary of Siemens AG and has been successfully commercializing innovative Siemens technologies in applications outside the strategic focus of the Siemens business units for almost 20 years. This happens either through the establishment of venture capital financed start-ups or through sale or licensing to established companies. For more information visit www.siemens.com/sta

 

Photography by Lina Nikelowski

More durable, quieter, higher quality: The Sawyer BLACK Edition

Rheinböllen, Germany – The Sawyer BLACK Edition is now available for pre-order and will be presented for the first time at K 2019 in Düsseldorf

One year after the takeover of assets by HAHN Group, Rethink Robotics presents its hardware update: The Sawyer BLACK Edition is the result of the combination of German engineering and longstanding application experience. Sawyer is now quieter and has more reliable components with higher quality. The Sawyer BLACK Edition can be pre-ordered now; first deliveries will take place in 2019.

The Sawyer BLACK Edition contributes to a quieter working environment and is therefore even more popular among employees. The improved component quality of the Sawyer BLACK Edition significantly raises the cobot’s reliability.

At K 2019 the Sawyer BLACK Edition will be demonstrated at the HAHN Group at booth E61 in hall 10 as part of a palletizing application for the packaging of boxes and plastics parts.

With the BLACK Edition Rethink Robotics continues to stand for easy application, flexibility in use and high acceptance among employees. Tasks that are dangerous for humans are, among others, possible applications. Some of these include CNC machine assembly, circuit board assembly, metal processing, injection molding, packaging, loading and unloading, as well as tests and inspections. The cobot solution is ready for use immediately after delivery and equipped with the powerful Intera software and two camera systems.

Rethink Robotics under new leadership

Rheinböllen, Germany – Daniel Bunse is new CEO of Rethink Robotics GmbH

Since October 1, 2019, Daniel Bunse is CEO of the Rethink Robotics GmbH. He takes over from Philipp Unterhalt, who served as interim CEO up until this point and now focuses completely on his tasks as Managing Director of HAHN Group.

Immediately after graduating as a certified engineer in mechatronics, with a focus on production and automation, Bunse founded the company Ruhrbotics in 2008. Through his international customers Bunse is an expert for topics on automation applications and robotics in industrial environments. In addition he advised standardization departments of original equipment manufacturers (OEM) on the future of automation and robotics. With guest lectures in robotics classes, the Bochum University of Applied Sciences among them, Bunse maintains close contact to research and education. Furthermore, he worked in numerous research projects, together with institutions like Fraunhofer IPA, FZI and KIT, to develop innovative robotics solutions for customers in various industries.

“The competence of Daniel Bunse in the market for automation and robotics solutions is outstanding. We are happy that we were able to staff the role of CEO for Rethink Robotics with such a specialist. Particularly his expertise and experience as a founder make an important contribution for our agile and fast-growing company,” explains Philipp Unterhalt, Managing Director of HAHN Group.