KUKA’s Automation Expertise Boosts Productivity for German SMEs

KUKA’s Automation Expertise Boosts Productivity for German SMEs

(IN BRIEF) German SMEs are facing challenges due to a shortage of skilled workers, difficult delivery conditions, and high energy costs. A survey by the Manpower Group revealed that 75% of entrepreneurs struggled to fill job positions. To address this issue, automation expert KUKA is targeting small and medium-sized companies with tailored products and solutions. While there was initial hesitation, more SMEs are recognizing the benefits of automation. For example, a galvanizing plant reduced labor shortages by investing in a robotic welding cell, and a family-owned company increased productivity through automation. Industrial robots are being used for tasks beyond the automotive industry, offering companies the opportunity to assign more engaging tasks to employees and attract new talent. KUKA provides a cost-effective solution, with a typical robotic welding setup paying for itself in about 17 months. By embracing automation, SMEs can combat the skilled worker shortage, enhance productivity, and position themselves for future success.

(PRESS RELEASE) AUGSBURG, 16-May-2023 — /EuropaWire/ — KUKA (ETR: KU2), one of the world’s leading suppliers of industrial robots and systems for factory automation and part of Midea Group, reveals that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Germany are currently facing a range of challenges, including a scarcity of skilled workers, difficult delivery conditions, and soaring energy costs. In a recent global survey conducted by the Manpower Group, it was found that 75% of entrepreneurs reported difficulties in filling job positions. In response, the implementation of industrial robots is emerging as a promising solution.

“It is becoming more difficult to find employees, especially for physically demanding and at the same time monotonous tasks. The turnover of skilled workers is particularly high in these types of tasks,” says Gerhard Müller, responsible for the regions Germany, Austria and Switzerland within KUKA’s robotics division. 

“Many entrepreneurs have so far shied away from the use of robots. Automation is too complex, too expensive and there is too much skepticism in the team,” Müller continues.

“In times of a shortage of skilled workers, the concern of employees about being replaced by a robot in production, which used to be so prevalent, is hardly an issue anymore. We also get feedback from customers that many are happy to hand over tasks that strain their backs, wrists or nerves,” reports Müller.

“Such a robot is then quickly picked up and can complement well-established teams very well. Many users even give our robots names,” says Müller.

Recognizing the urgent need, automation expert KUKA, headquartered in Augsburg, has set its sights on assisting SMEs with tailored products and solutions. Previously, there was some hesitancy among SMEs to adopt automation technologies, but this trend is gradually shifting. Increasingly, small businesses are recognizing the immense opportunities that lie in automating various tasks. For instance, a galvanizing plant in the Black Forest, employing 65 individuals, successfully mitigated labor shortages by investing in a compact robotic welding cell. This not only eliminated the need for extensive transportation but also allowed the company to expand its customer base. Similar success stories are evident at STELA, a family-owned company that experienced a significant productivity boost, and the Fiedler brewery in the Erz Mountains, where a KUKA robot expertly handles the stacking of heavy beer crates.

Overcoming the skilled worker shortage and attracting top talent

Industrial robots are already being utilized for tasks such as palletizing, machine loading and unloading, quality control, and welding, extending beyond the traditional realms of the highly automated automotive industry.

In addition to streamlining operations, many KUKA customers have reported that automation enables them to assign more engaging and intellectually stimulating tasks to their employees. Furthermore, companies utilizing robots tend to be more appealing to prospective applicants. By investing in cutting-edge technologies and showcasing a commitment to innovation, company leadership demonstrates a forward-thinking approach and positions themselves effectively for the future.

The rapid return on investment: A case in point

To shed light on the tangible benefits, let’s consider a typical scenario where a KUKA robot assumes welding duties. The overall cost for such a solution amounts to approximately €110,000. This includes a project-specific welding fixture, premium welding technology, robot programming, on-site commissioning, and employee training at the customer’s facility. On the other hand, the annual salary for an employee responsible for this task would be around €40,000. Considering the two-shift operation, personnel expenses reach €80,000. Industry-standard return on investment (ROI) calculations reveal that the robotic solution pays for itself in roughly 17 months.

By embracing automation, SMEs can effectively combat the skilled worker shortage while simultaneously enhancing productivity, reducing costs, and positioning themselves for long-term success. KUKA remains committed to empowering businesses of all sizes to embrace automation and thrive in the ever-evolving global marketplace.

Media contact:

Ulrike Götz
Spokesperson Technology
KUKA AG, Zugspitzstraße 140, 86165 Augsburg, Germany
+49 821 797-3795



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