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Historic trucks stand in front of a KUKA factory hall: KUKA is 125 years old.

A company on the move: 125 years of KUKA

Only one in four companies in Germany makes it past the age of 20 according to the results of a Creditreform evaluation from 2019. KUKA has proven that other outcomes are also possible and will be celebrating its 125th anniversary. Let us take you on a trip down memory lane as we look at the company’s eventful history.


Romy Schoenwetter
24 January 2023
Society
Reading Time: 2 min.

Johann Keller and Jakob Knappich are probably the most famous KUKAns. They founded the Augsburg-Oberhausen acetylene plant, Keller and Knappich, in 1898. Now, in the anniversary year 2023, KUKA is one of the largest robot and automation suppliers in the world.

Robot development at the company has become a real success story: From a small team of developers in the early 1970s, at that time still under the umbrella of Schweißanlagen GmbH, a separate division has developed within the company with over 5,000 employees. Plant engineering has also made a decisive contribution to KUKA's success since that time. Since 2014, Swisslog has also enriched the KUKA Group with data- and robot-controlled intralogistics. About the strength to reinvent itself again and again and the change within the last 125 years.

The company headquarters in Augsburg: 1898 |Today

KUKA Augsburg site aerial photograph 1966

In the early years, KUKA was based in the Augsburg district of Oberhausen and manufactured acetylene generators. Not only have the locations multiplied since then, but so has the portfolio. Today, KUKA offers everything from a single source: from robotic components to networked production. And it has remained true to its Augsburg location.

KUKA Augsburg site aerial photograph 2023

Successful products: 1955 |Today

A briefcase-sized typewriter, 64 millimeters high, weighing ten pounds: the "Princess" is one of KUKA's first successful products and became the best-selling flat typewriter in the Federal Republic of Germany in the early 1950s. Today, robots dominate the assembly halls at the Augsburg site.

A look inside the robot production shops at KUKA in Augsburg: an employee assembles a KUKA robot.

50 years Robotic Experience:
1973 |Today

KUKA employees stand in front of the KUKA Famulus, with which the Augsburg-based automation specialist wrote history as a robotics pioneer in 1973.

In 1973, KUKA made history as a robotics pioneer with the introduction of the Famulus. It was the world's first industrial robot with six electromechanically driven axes. Today, 50 years later, humans can work directly with KUKA robots, such as the Cobot LBR iisy.

A woman operates the KUKA Cobot LBR iisy, whose intuitive operation guarantees rapid productive use without prior knowledge.

Robot evolution: 1975 |Today

A KUKA robot is loaded at the KUKA site in Augsburg in 1975.

Robot development has shaped the company's history. Today, more than 300,000 KUKA robots support a wide range of industries worldwide. They can withstand extreme cold and heat and handle payloads of up to 1,300 kilograms. Some things, on the other hand, have hardly changed at all, such as loading into trucks.

KUKA 125: KUKA Roboter being loaded by a forklift at the Augsburg plant site in 2022.

Plant engineering: 1983 | Today

A KUKA welding line from 1983.

Plant engineering is an important part of the KUKA Group. Since the 1950s, many major automotive brands as well as medium and small manufacturers have relied on KUKA's expertise in body manufacturing. Above is a welding line from 1983, below an automotive system from today.

A KUKA Automotive plant in 2022: Plant engineering is an important part of the KUKA Group.

Training at KUKA: 1987 IToday

Training at KUKA in 1987: An instructor and five trainees stand in front of a milling machine. The Augsburg-based automation specialist has been providing training for over one hundred years.

Tomorrow's skilled workers: Training at KUKA has always met high standards. Above 1987 versus today at the Augsburg training center. There, all workbenches are equipped with tablets: Via them, trainees and students can access their teaching materials and the internal learning system at any time. 

In 2023, we will celebrate KUKA's 125th anniversary. We will keep you up to date via kuka.com.

About the author
Romy Schoenwetter
Manager Corporate Communications
More about Romy Schoenwetter
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