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Collaborative Robots Prove A Hit As Reeco Marks First Anniversary

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A company that harnesses the power of collaborative robots is set for rapid growth after a successful first year.

Reeco Automation has already won projects with BMW’s Mini Factory in Oxfordshire and international wine producer Accolade Wines, the largest company of its kind in the UK and Australia.

Reeco was launched a year ago by Llewelyn Rees and is the only integrator of collaborative robots (cobots) in the UK. The global market for cobots is expected to grow by more than 40 per cent in each of the next five years and be worth over £3billion by 2020.

Reeco marked its first anniversary by being named as the official system partner for KUKA, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cobots.

The company, which is headquartered in the Mid Wales town of Caersws, has so far predominantly focused on the automotive and packaging industries.

Cobots are designed not to replace the work of humans, but instead to complement and bring about a step change in speed of production, efficiency and safety.

Before setting up Reeco, Llewelyn, 36, spent 15 years working with industrial robots before switching his attention to cobots. Cobots were first launched four years ago and were created specifically to work alongside a co-worker where an industrial robot is not suitable.

Llewelyn, Reeco’s Managing Director, said: “I could see the future of collaborative robots and the fact that there were no integrators in the UK to facilitate them.

“We have secured some notable project wins in our first year and formed key partnerships. We have also built a team of highly skilled engineers working from our site in Mid Wales.

The new generation of robots allows operators and robot to work together without the need for safety fencing and expensive guarding, all regulated to ISO 13849-1. The cobots have a guaranteed payback within 12 months.

In addition to the KUKA partnership, Reeco also partners with Universal Robots.

The project with Accolade Wines saw Reeco successfully integrate a Universal cobot into their production line.

Llewelyn said: “Accolade Wines wanted to find a better way of loading wine boxes on to a conveyor belt. Following initial conversations, we demonstrated how a human-robot collaboration could speed up the procedure. Having proved the concept, it took less than four months to integrate the cobot into the Accolade packaging line.

“The project was challenging as we were working collaboratively on something that had never been achieved before.”

Such was the project’s success, Reeco this month won a ‘Collaboration of the Year’ award at Accolade Wines’ annual supplier awards.

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