Fanuc Corporation recently celebrated a significant milestone in the automation industry by producing its one-millionth industrial robot. The company which supplies customers worldwide with its CNC-systems, robots and machine tools, is a pioneer in factory automation and deployed its first robot in its own production line back in 1974. Today, thousands of robots build new robots in the company's factories in Japan. "Demand for our robots is currently at an all-time high", says Marco Ghirardello, the President and CEO of Fanuc Europe.
While industrial robots were traditionally used mainly in the automotive and electronics industries, they have now become prevalent in many other industries and businesses, including food and pharmaceuticals and even handicraft. The increasing shortage of labour and for the improving ease of use are some of the reasons for the spread of robotics into new segments.
Fanuc offers over 200 robot models that perform various tasks in manufacturing, such as welding, painting, assembly, and packaging. Collaborative robots (Cobots) are gaining popularity as they can work alongside employees without external safety fences. However, traditional production robots still dominate in the industry, and their use, such as in the automotive industry, accelerates the shift towards electromobility.
"Applications for robots are expanding, and the demand is expected to continue to grow significantly in the future. In order to support our customers' automation needs, Fanuc will strive to further improve quality, performance, and supply capabilities", says Fanuc Europe President and CEO Ghirardello.
In 1977, Fanuc developed and started the production of the cylindrical coordinate robot "Fanuc Robot Model 1". Since then, it evolved to the "Fanuc Robot S-Model 420", which was used in many automobile body assembly lines, and onto the "Fanuc Robot R-2000iA" which was developed in 2000 with significantly improved reliability, motion performance, and cost performance.
During this period, the expansion in automation in a wide range of applications drove the development of various model series, such as the small and mid- ARC Mate series for arc welding, the small LR Mate series that can be mounted directly on machine tools for machine tending, the M-710i series, M-410i series, and M-900i series for material handling. Furthermore, Fanuc expanded the lineup by developing the models to meet our customers’ requests, including the M-2000iA series, the world's largest payload robot, and Scara and Delta robots for assembly and high-speed picking. In 2017, 40 years since the first Fanuc robot was shipped, the cumulative number of industrial robots produced totalled 500,000 units.
In recent years, to stay ahead of the broadening demand for automation, Fanuc has added the CR series and CRX series collaborative robots to its lineup.