Düsseldorf, Germany — Sepro Group officials said the French company is poised for growth with a new chief sales officer appointed on the heels of a partnership with Universal Robots on collaborative robots.
Sepro named Xavier Lucas to the post responsible for worldwide sales of robots and automation as well as the service network. Lucas started in early October and introduced himself to industry officials at K 2019 in Düsseldorf.
Lucas joined the La Roche sur Yon-based company in 2018 to serve as its global service and automation director. He also is a member of Sepro's global management board.
Lucas said one of his first goals is to increase Sepro's presence in Asian countries, such as Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea and Japan.
"We need to find the right partners. The idea is not to go alone and say we are the best," Lucas said.
Currently, Sepro has a presence in China and offers technical services in Malaysia, he added.
Sepro's top markets are Germany, the U.S. and France. The company posted sales of 133 million euros ($143.5 million) in 2018, mostly to the automotive, packaging, household, cosmetic and medical markets. Eighty-five percent of its products are exported.
Company officials say Sepro is the No. 2 robot manufacturer worldwide in the plastics industry with higher aspirations.
"We still have the ambition to become No. 1. Right now we're No. 2," Lucas said, adding Sepro is investing in research and development in addition to focusing on Asia.
Another sales initiative was launched in May when Sepro and Universal Robots signed an agreement to integrate Sepro's Visual control system with collaborative robots supplied by Universal Robots.
Cobots work side-by-side with humans. Sepro's Visual control platform was developed especially for robots used in plastics injection-molding machines.
Sepro says the new partnership with Universal Robots will allow it to offer injection molders an extensive range of automation solutions, such as Cartesian robots and six-axis articulated-arm robots in addition to cobots.
At K 2019, Sepro exhibited two examples of interaction between humans and robots. In one demonstration, a cobot served as the link between trade show attendees and a Haitian International molding machine equipped with a Sepro Success 11 Cartesian robot.
As the molding machine produced recyclable drinking cups, visitors could use a key pad to enter a brief message, such as a name, that was printed onto a recyclable label. After the Success robot removed the cup from the injection mold and placed it on a table, the cobot retrieved it, applied the label and presented the personalized cup to the visitor.
For the second demonstration, K show attendees used a control screen to choose between a round box of candy and a square one. With the help of a flexible-feeding system — provided by the Swiss company Asyril SA — and input from a machine-vision camera, the cobot picked the appropriate shape from the feeder and placed it on a table in front of the visitor.
Sepro had eight robots operating at its stand, including three-, five- and six-axis models in addition to the cobots. Sepro also had products operating on the stands of 11 injection molding partners exhibiting at the show.
"A large part of Sepro's recent growth is thanks to the breadth of technology we offer as a result of collaboration with injection-molding machine makers and other automation companies," Sepro Group President Eric Radat said in a news release.