Välj din plats:


#HomeofRobotik: 50 years of robotics expertise

Making life and work easier for people: Serving people: The history of modern industrial robots began with this idea 50 years ago in Augsburg in southern Germany. The idea lives on. Today, sustainable robotics for every size of company and almost every application is created along complex production lines. The focus is always on the user.

Guest author
den 28 november 2023
Lästid: 3 minuter
Written by Marcus Schick

The world's first electrically driven industrial robot

Famulus: this was the name given to a servant or assistant in ancient Rome. Back then the Romans had no idea that this name already contained the program for the robotics of the future - as a "helper" to make the production of goods and industrial processes easier for people. When KUKA launched the KR FAMULUS, the world's first six-axis, electrically driven industrial robot, in 1973, the mechanical engineering company from Augsburg wrote technological history and ushered in a completely new age of robotics.

1970: The engineering team with the KR FAMULUS - the world's first electrically driven industrial robot

With its six electrically driven axes, the KR FAMULUS may still seem very "angular" and pretentious from today's perspective - but it was exactly the opposite: it precisely met the industry's requirements for flexible robots that could take on both versatile and high-precision tasks in day-to-day production and become guarantors for precisely timed production processes.

Our mission: Making work and life easier for people

"The idea of developing the KR FAMULUS and its realization is still relevant after 50 years: KUKA robots are reliable helpers in industrial production. This special added value it brings is confirmed by our customers, but also in our own day-to-day production," explains Edmund Bahr, Head of Quality and Production at KUKA Deutschland GmbH. Bahr has been with KUKA for 34 years and has experienced and helped shaping the history of robotics first-hand.

You must to be passionate about technology.

Edmund Bahr, Head of Quality and Production bei der KUKA Deutschland GmbH
Bahr points to a KR FORTEC ultra with a double-robot-arm design standing at the entrance to the robot production hall where the main assembly of KUKA robots takes place. The robot, designed for heavy-duty applications, was painted in a special design featuring photos of KUKA founders Johann Josef Keller and Jakob Knappich to mark the company's anniversary.
Find out now how and where KUKA robots are produced and the secret behind their long product life cycle.

A world record holder lends a hand

KUKA robots produces robots in the production in Augsburg. One of them is definitely not to be overlooked. With a load capacity of up to 1.3 tons and a reach of over 3.6 meters, the KR TITAN packs a heavy load right at the start of the main assembly line of KUKA robot production. It brings together the large, heavy components of the new KUKA robots to be assembled - the base frame, the carousel and the gearbox. The KR TITAN lives up to its name and made it into the Guinness Book of Records in 2008 as the largest and most powerful six-axis industrial robot in the world at the time.

KR TITAN produces automated robots in production in Augsburg

Indestructible after over 27,204 operating hours

"KUKA robots are not only indispensable helpers for a wide variety of industrial applications with a wide range of payloads and reach requirements, they are also virtually indestructible. For example, a KUKA robot is currently being prepared for new tasks after 27 years and over 27,204 operating hours in the production of an automotive supplier. Its excellent condition makes it ready for new production jobs," explains Production Manager Bahr.

Robots are our passion

As he walks through the spacious production halls at the KUKA headquarters in Augsburg, the mechanical engineer specializing in production and automation points to five orange-glowing robots that have just left the painting cell
The finishing touches: painting work in robot production in Augsburg
Painting of a KUKA robot that has just been produced

As a employee removes the covers and finally paints the KUKA logo accurately in black by hand, you can feel the passion that goes into every single KUKA robot. "Robots are our passion," confirms Edmund Bahr.

German engineering spirit in every robot

In the production lines at the Augsburg site, as in other KUKA plants, for example in China and Hungary, automation technology with German engineering spirit is created. This includes large industrial robots designed for heavy loads, such as the KR FORTEC, as well as small, flexible robots such as the KR AGILUS, lightweight robots and cobots such as the LBR iisy. KUKA also develops and manufactures "specialists" tailored to the requirements of specific industries, such as the Hygienic Oil series or the KR QUANTEC Arctic PA for the food industry. 

No matter how large or small, every work step is carried out with great care in the assembly halls. Tugger trains whirring incessantly through the halls supply the employees at the individual workstations with the required parts and components at precisely the right time. "Everything is in a state of flux in production," says Edmund Bahr. "And that needs to be well planned, especially when chip shortages, supply bottlenecks and transport delays come into play."

Commissioning of a KUKA robot

Our headquarters is in Germany, but our spirit is at home around the world 

The key to a successful robot production is to work together - across divisional and national boundaries, involving KUKA's global production sites and international sales and integrators network. "Innovations, product and process optimizations arise from the accumulated experience and knowledge of the entire KUKA cosmos.

The times when design engineers designed a robot in a quiet room, went to production with the engineering plan and said: 'Just realize the engineering plan. Considering globally networked supply chains and fast changing customer requirements, holistic production engineering is essential," says Bahr. The focus is always on maximum efficiency with the highest quality standards - both in production and in lifecycle management.


Robot assembly at KUKA in Augsburg

Robotics holistically conceived and made

"Considering all aspects from the outset and incorporating them into the optimization of production and quality assurance processes is one of the strengths of the German engineering spirit that KUKA lives by worldwide. It leads to consistent global quality standards and ultimately to greater employee and customer satisfaction," says Bahr. This often involves supposed "details", such as the use of identical screws for different models, which not only has an impact on procurement, but also on tools and workplace equipment.

Maximum runtime thanks to global quality standards

"Thanks to the strong networking of the KUKA sites worldwide and the intensive cooperation with our international integrators network, we know what challenges our customers in every industry and market are facing. This enables us to continuously optimize robot production across locations - in Augsburg, China and Hungary - to meet the requirements of our customers, to benefit from each other's strengths and to keep production worldwide at the same high KUKA quality standard," says Bahr.
Edmund Bahr, Head of Production KUKA Deutschland GmbH

"After more than 50 years of success, the quality concept of our industrial robots has more than proven itself," explains Edmund Bahr. As with the KR FAMULUS, the KUKA mission of making people's work and life easier and being "at their service" with intelligent automation solutions is confirmed every day anew. Progress and innovation never stand still." This gives his team in production a special certainty for the future: "We are guaranteed never to be bored."

Om författaren:
Nästa artikel

Explore more exciting automation highlights