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Interview with Dr. Joachim Strobel and Philipp Kremer, KUKA Roboter

How KUKA facilitates the engineering of robots and machine automation

Several automation manufacturers supported the market survey from Quest TechnoMarketing about the engineering of the automation technology in the German machinery industry, among them KUKA Roboter GmbH, Gersthofen, Germany. Thomas Quest interviews Dr. Joachim Strobel, Manager Sales Channels, and Philipp Kremer, Product Manager mxAutomation with KUKA Roboter about the engineering of the robot applications.

Dr. Strobel, Mr. Kremer, the machine-builders in Germany want to increase the use of robots at the machines by approximately 10% per year according to our representative market survey for 2014. The German mechanical engineering industry is considered as benchmark due to its strong position on the world market. Does this pronounced growth trend correspond to your observations?

Robots support the “breathing factory”

As is well-known KUKA is strongly represented in the automobile industry. Beyond that we early discovered the large potential for efficiency increases through robots in the general machinery industry. The machine-builders are sharing this view as it is acknowledged by the growth numbers. The reasons for this view are in detail:


  • Enhancement and consistent high degree of production quality
  • Increase of productivity
  • Reduction of manual labor that is difficulty acceptable
  • Saving of personnel expenditure, as well as
  • Realization of the request for the"breathing factory", forced by the crises of the last years.
Dr. Joachim Strobel

The utilization of capacity in the industry became subject to stronger fluctuations in the last years. The breathing factory adapts itself to these fluctuations. In this context robots at the machines are playing an important role. Robots enabled to industrial companies to create an unmanned third shift at machine tools with very good situation concerning orders. Vice versa the use of robots is protecting the permanent staff during weak utilization of capacity.

So machine-builders, supporting the breathing factory at their customers with robots, are able to realize worldwide competitive advantages. For these machine-builders KUKA is the right partner as we act globally, our robots cover almost all applications and machine-builders can trust on a reliable support on-site.  

How does the global market position of KUKA look like?  

In brief: KUKA holds rank 2 in the world market for industrial robots and rank 1 in automotive.

This year each second machine-builder in the ten highly-automated mechanical engineering sectors will implement robots at the machines to different extent. And two thirds of these machine-builders want to make the engineering of their robot applications on their own. Mainly three reasons are cited, i.e. 1. flexibility in dealing with customer requirements, 2. know-how remains in-house and 3. ensuring in-house ability to service the robot. How does KUKA deal with this trend?

The starting point to facilitate engineering: mxAutomation

KUKA mxAutomation integrated in control systems.

Just to support these characteristics we established our command interface mxAutomation for external machine controls.

With mxAutomation the machine-builder remains in his individual engineering world and does not need any robot-specific engineering system. So we assume that in the future considerably more than two thirds of the machine-builders will make the engineering on their own resp. will change from own kinematics to standard robots from KUKA.  

But robots offer a large variety of moves that can be only exploiting by a specific robot language. So an engineering, specifically adapted to the robot, seems to be an obvious approach, doesn't it? This situation may have also prevented one or the other machine-builder from using robots so far. How does the command interface mxAutomation change the engineering of the robot applications?

mxAutomation in the general machinery industry, particularly at machine tools and plastics machines, in the packaging technology and electronics manufacturing

This interface applies for the general machinery industry, i.e. wherever the robot plays the role of a supplementing, intelligent component at the machine.

Foto fromn Philipp Kremer, KUKA Roboter.
Philipp Kremer

Let's take a machine tool with Sinumerik from Siemens. The robot places parts for operation and picks them up again or carries supplementing processing steps out such as deburring.

mxAutomation enables the machine-builder to directly tie his know-how up to machine programming using it for robot programming. The machine programmer remains within the engineering system of the Sinumerik ("NC language"), any separate engineering system for robots is omitted.

For this purpose the machine programmer installs the software package Sinumerik Operate Run MyRobot from Siemens® and a robot with KUKA.PLC mxAutomation as interface. After having accomplished the first startup with the robot the entire engineering as well as operation and diagnosis of robot and machine afterwards work with the Sinumerik user interface.

That facilitates decisively the engineering process: The machine-builder employs his know-how, and saves time, increasing both the efficiency of his engineering and the performance of the machine with the robots. Beyond that mxAutomation enhances the machine-builder's ability to adapt to customer requests in a flexible since time-saving manner.  

By the way, for setting-up and converting the machine at both places at the machine-builders and the customers there is no longer any need to deal with two operation panel: the machine technician switches the channel on his HT8 to remain in his machine world perceiving the robot as part of the machine.  

Are there any further applications for machinery industry?  

Of course, for example in the plastics sector with spraying cast, blow or thermal formed containers or medical products mxAutomation makes it possible to display, to operate and to program the robot in the same manner as the user is familiar with his plastics machine ("icon language"). Likewise it appears with package technology or handling of electronic parts.

To page 2 of the interview with the topics:

  • How mxAutomation is realized by software
  • The integration of mxAutomation into control systems
  • How machine-builders can integrate their own software modules
  • The tools for the right selection of the robots
  • At the end-user the "Single-Point-of-Operation" by mxAutomation
  • Easier service at the end-user by mxAutomation

Logo from KUKA Roboter GmbH

About the KUKA Roboter GmbH

The KUKA Roboter GmbH, with its headquarters in Augsburg, is a member of the KUKA Aktiengesellschaft and ranks among the world’s leading suppliers of industrial robots.

Core competencies are development, production and sale of industrial robots, controllers and software. The company is the market leader in Germany and Europe and the number three in the world.

KUKA Roboter GmbH employs about 3400 people worldwide. In 2013, sales totaled 754,1 million Euro. 28 subsidiaries provide a presence in the major markets of Europe, America and Asia.


KUKA Aktiengesellschaft
Zugspitzstr. 140
86165 Augsburg

Telefon +49(0)821-797-4000

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"Please do not hesitate... contact me for your questions".

Foto from Philipp Kremer, KUKA Roboter
Philipp Kremer

More informationen

KUKA brochure for mxAutomation.
To download click on the picture, please.