The robot lift - a successful model for development

Chronicle · Martin Hedman, Project manager Robotlyftet, IUC Sverige AB · 2021-10-31

Martin Hedman at IUC Sweden is the project manager for Robotlyftet.

In the implementation of Robotlyftet, we have met companies where knowledge of robots and automation has been non-existent. We have also worked with companies that have used robots for many years but want to move forward in their development, for example by improving the design of a product for continued robotization.

What the participating companies have in common, however, is that they highlight the value of a complementary discussion with an independent party. So even though the program includes financial support and other initiatives, I believe that the most important contribution has been that we have been able to increase companies' security in the face of the strategically difficult choices they face.

The robot lift was initiated by the Government to support automation and robotisation in small and medium-sized industrial companies. Tillväxtverket has handled the financing and procured the contractor IUC Sverige AB, which has collaborated through the IUC network, Automation Region, Robotdalen, Rise IVF and Swira. The program started in 2019 and will now end at the turn of the year.

In the program, we have been in contact with over 2,500 companies. Of these, just over 500 have proceeded with a prerequisite study in which a regional IUC coach has carried out a broad screening of the activities and desired areas for improvement. The robot lift's experts have since made an assessment of the situation. Will the effort give the right result? Is the expected result reasonable in relation to the investment?

The coaches and experts of Robotlyftet have not sold robots or consulting services, they have only worked to help companies move forward based on their specific situation and challenge. Many companies need to review their production flow or customize their product before automating. For example, we looked at a case where a company wanted to robotize a certain work step in production. When we started counting on it, it turned out that a robot would be too efficient - it would be able to do a full year of work in two to three weeks and then be left unused the rest of the time.

With the prerequisite study as a basis and a sharp quote from an integrator, the participating companies have since been able to apply for automation checks from the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. Companies that have needed extensive organizational or production development, we have in many cases been able to pass on to Produktionslyftet. 35 companies from Robotlyftet have started Produktionslyftet's Start Program and 10 companies have started their 18-month development program. In this way, we have been able to offer different ways forward based on the companies' needs.

The strength of the robot lift is that the program has been activity-oriented towards companies where the participating parties have had clear roles and functions. We set up a joint work process and report structure from the beginning, which we have followed and also improved along the way. The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth has procured the project and set clear requirements for the initiatives to be carried out. They have also simplified reporting in order to get the most company benefit out of the investment.

In total, Robotlyftet costs SEK 68 million over a three-year period. A large part of that investment has already returned in the form of job creation and it is a repayment that continues.

We have shown that it is possible to collaborate between universities, institutes and consultants at regional and national level to support the business community. The model for Robotlyftet can serve as a model for an upcoming industrial lift that includes development in production, competence, market and digitalisation. A broad approach is required for us to be able to develop the country's approximately 5,000 manufacturing small and medium-sized companies.

Martin Hedman
Project manager Robotlyftet, IUC Sverige AB