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Voith and Franka Emika Form Strategic Partnership

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Voith, Heidenheim, Germany, and the Munich, Germany-based robotics company Franka Emika have entered into a strategic partnership. 

Part of the strategic partnership is the establishment of a new joint venture called Voith Robotics—a Voith and Franka Emika Company. The company, with headquarters in Munich, is to become a global system supplier for robot-assisted automation in the digital age. Voith Robotics will offer self-teaching lightweight robots made by Franka Emika, along with software solutions, apps, services, and process consulting, to customers in various industries and markets throughout the world.

As part of the strategic partnership, Voith will also have a direct stake in Franka Emika, thus emphasizing the long-term and strategic commitment by the two companies to cooperation. Martin Scherrer, formerly a member of the Voith Paper Board of Management, will be the new CEO of Voith Robotics, which is to be managed by Voith.

The still very young market for collaborative robots, also called cobots, currently has a volume of some EUR 300 million and is predicted by industry researchers to grow exponentially in the coming years. The global market volume is expected to come to about EUR 15 billion by 2025. 

Franka Emika is a leading designer and developer of powerful, self-teaching and easy-to-use lightweight robots. They will make it possible for the first time to automate repetitive and often monotonous tasks like finely controlled fitting, screwing, and joining, as well as testing, inspection, and assembly.

In 2017, the team from Franka Emika received the German Award for Innovation in Science and Technology from President Frank-Walter Steinmeier for developing "Panda," the first highly sensitive, self-teaching lightweight robot. In addition to being applied in industry, these robots may someday assist people in their everyday lives or help with tasks like elder care. The robot series Panda, in combination with robot apps and customized services, will be the future core products of Voith Robotics. The company will also offer platform- and manufacturer-independent robotics and automation solutions.
The new joint venture will be presented to the public for the first time at Hannover Messe. 

"By bringing together a young company with its unique product portfolio and an experienced, family-owned and world-wide engaged company with a global network, we are creating a role model for Industry 4.0," said Dr. Simon Haddadin, CEO of Franka Emika. "We will be able to offer customers throughout the world a combination of exceptional services and support, based on unique technologies."

"Through its strategic partnership with Franka Emika, Voith has taken the logical next step in its digital agenda. We have defined robotics as a key competence and intend to add it to our existing portfolio," said Stephan Schaller, president and CEO of Voith GmbH & Co. KGaA. "Franka Emika and Voith complement each other in an ideal manner by combining robotics, artificial intelligence, and digital apps for users in various target markets with our know-how in automation and processes."

Franka Emika’s vision is to develop lightweight robots that can be sold on the mass market and assist people as intelligent tools. The company is the world’s first provider of out-of-the-box, CE-certified robot solutions with a fully modular ultra-lightweight construction, highly integrated mechatronic design, and the ability to perform skillful, sensitive manipulation. 

Panda is currently the fastest-selling robot system in the world. Franka World will go online this year, and the first international location was opened at the start of this year in Silicon Valley, Calif., USA. Franka Emika is thus one of Europe’s fastest-growing companies.

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