Collaborative Robot Market Strategy Is the Focus of Universal Robots’ New President

In the News
October 04, 2016

Universal Robots A/S has been on a roll, doubling in size every year for the past few years. This week, Teradyne Inc., which bought the collaborative robot maker in 2015 for $285 million, named Jürgen von Hollen as UR’s new president. Von Hollen talked with Robotics Business Review about his new job and the robot market.

“I was recruited for the role,” he said. “I’m still in the midst of relocating from Frankfurt [Germany] to Odense, Denmark.”

Von Hollen previously worked at Daimler-Benz aerospace, Daimler-Chrysler Services, Deutsche Telecom, and Pentair.

“If you look at my career, it has been about international, global, and scaling companies, so I’ve worked in many different roles,” he said. “At Bilfinger’s engineering solutions division, I was responsible for 10,000 people and about $1 billion in sales. I’ve been active in the automation field.”

Assessing cobot demand and scaling up

“The key thing is my experience with scaling companies and with multiple markets and industries,” von Hollen said. “I’m personally interested in process automation, understanding the core processes of customers.”

He noted that one challenge in his first days at Universal Robots is to understand the collaborative robot market.

“Yes, it’s the technology, but what about the people behind it?” von Hollen asked. “Are we getting to the [potential] markets?”

But a wide range of predictions doesn’t make von Hollen’s job easier.

“One big question is identifying the robot market size and growth,” he said. “It’s still such a young industry, and market data is very sparse or not very clear.”

“Everybody has an opinion on the growth of the market, and I’ve seen deviations of 20 to 40 percent,” von Hollen said. “Fortunately, my analysis is that UR is very strong and focused.”

“My strategy is always market-backed,” he said. “If the market is growing, then we grow with the market. I want to go beyond that, to achieve and hold the leadership position.”

Educating end users

“There’s a lack of profile or definition of collaborative robots versus traditional robotics,” von Hollen said. “We need to make sure that we’re educating the market as we’re going along.”

He listed three major challenges...

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