"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them", is the Albert Einstein quote that Sven Kaluza has featured on his LinkedIn-profile. The statement illustrates the personal drive of the business development manager robotics for OMRON Europe's central region. It is no coincidence that Sven made the choice four years ago to pursue his extensive career in technology at OMRON. "I fell in love with the smart robotics that OMRON develops and markets or better phrased: 'I fell in love with the possibilities of OMRON's automation solutions for societal gains.' Take the automated pipetting solution that was realized during the COVID-19 peak this year. Such innovations really make a societal difference and it is greatly satisfying on all levels to contribute to that", Sven proudly states.
The effects of COVID-19 impact the lives of all us. Sven witnessed the significance in his own personal surroundings from his family, volunteer work at his volleyball club to the schooling system of his kids in which he actively takes part. Professionally he saw that the crisis did not only cause major economic restrictions, but also opened opportunities for innovative market players that desire to make a difference for the benefit of society as a whole.
"Our mission at OMRON is to improve lives and to contribute to a better society by respecting all, challenging ourselves and pioneering innovation driven by social needs. System Integrator GRIPS Automation has been working with OMRON for over 25 years and shares those values. Their engineers analyzed automation related issues related to the pandemic and came up with the idea to create an automated pipetting solution."
"With an incredible time-to-market of just five months they were able to realize a high speed automated pipetting solution taking advantage of OMRON's diverse portfolio featuring essential elements like robotics, sensors, 2D-code readers and OMRON's control system. The result is a turn-key solution for labs to enable them to completely automate their pipetting activities. That encompasses picking up the samples, removing liquid, pipetting it into tubes, reading QR-codes, measuring the sample filling levels and all other related production steps."
"The great gain the solution provides is that it unburdens lab professionals so that they can attend to work where they are really of added value instead of just handling samples for a major part of the day. As a consequence the number of handled samples increased dramatically, hygiene improved and overall production quality too. The new set-up assists labs with collecting production data plus saving and processing it for traceability purposes."
Sven enthusiastically explains that the automated pipetting solution was an instant success with market demand far exceeding initial production capabilities. "In our industry success is often just measured in terms of ROI, but the origins of success are so much more diverse than that. I truly believe that businesses deprive themselves of a world of opportunities if they do not take a broader approach to measuring their impact."
"Looking at Industry 4.0 and today's sustainability issues, business success takes a flight on multiple levels. It is a journey that I and our teams of field- and application engineers love to kick-start with our partners and that prepares our industry to not only be more compatible with future generations, but to truly make an important contribution to the lives of those generations."
*ROI=Return on investment
Sven does not only share his societal commitment with his client base, but also actively participates in various internal trajectories at OMRON to assist colleagues. TOGA, The OMRON Global Awards, is one of the initiatives that OMRON uses internally to put projects that really make a societal difference into the spotlights.
TOGA provides employees worldwide with the opportunity to discuss solutions for social issues and the creation of new value for customers and society, by transcending regional or functional barriers. It is a way to help colleagues focus, but also to see if the scope of such innovations can carry further than the original intended purpose of the automation solution for broader implementation throughout the chain of production.
Just as important as the internal focus is outside acceptance. Sven: "I sometimes feel that, for instance robotics, still suffers from an image problem. Drop the word at any birthday party and people around you will often comment that robots are a threat to human employment. As industry leaders we have an important task to explain to everyone that today's smart collaborative robots are not meant to replace humans, but to purposely enhance the work flow so that humans can do the much more satisfying and less intensive work with which they really can make a difference."
"I like to illustrate that humans can be viewed as really advanced high end computers", Sven continues his argument. "Humans are able to do things that machines will probably never ever do. So why would we object to delegating the simple tasks to robots? It makes sense on so many levels. It relieves employees of heavy work that influences their well being. It makes their jobs much more interesting if they do not have to do boring repetitive work. And just taking today's labor situation into account: there is a major shortage on the job market!"
"Robots can help to solve these social issues. That is what makes my work so interesting and what makes this industry tick. We are on the cutting edge of truly blending automation innovations and societal needs together into one singular approach. Honestly, for me that feels as the natural way to go ahead and to have the right to exist as an industry in our joint future. The production that we should strive for is not just about being faster and cheaper. It is about making a difference. It is about improving lives. It is about keeping job opportunities in all countries."
The speed with which COVID-19 has taken the world by surprise and the intensity of the pandemic, have forced industries to be creative and flexible to cope with the new reality. "Harmonization between human and machines, advanced production control and intelligent automation all contribute to what OMRON defines as innovative-Automation which represents OMRON's vision of a revitalized manufacturing industry.
"For me and my colleagues it feels like a privilege to be in a position to contribute to new automation solutions that truly make a difference for all us. Not only today, but also with regard to the future of our kids. If we all really put in the effort that we are supposed to, I feel that the sky is the limit. Smart automation and robotics can protect and improve our lives. With our rapidly developing technological advances we should be able to use our new reality as a stepping stone for great things to come", Sven concludes.