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How to support an exponential growth of 10% per month without compromising the entrepreneurial spirit and profitability of the company? At Universal Robots, the answer was to partner with Maestro to handle this growth. That  has created a solid foundation that can carry the company into  the future.

Universal Robots in Odense is a real Danish robot adventure,  which has been front-page material in Danish and international business media several times in recent years. Most recently in 2015, when the company was acquired by the American electronics giant, Teradyne,  for 1.9 billion. kroner.  

Universal Robots develops small, lightweight industrial robots that are easy to install and program. That which in 2005 started as one  development project among 3 visionary PhDs, quickly became a huge success and set in motion a rarely seen exponential growth curve.  More specifically, it turned into a revenue growth from DKK 75 million. DKK to 1  mia. DKK four years later in 2017. A growth that places extremely high demands on all areas of the company - from purchasing, production  and development for onboarding of new employees. 

Troels Hornsved

Troels BW.jpg

"We have been incredibly happy

the collaboration with Maestro. They have given

us sparring and competent counterplay on

the management area combined with a lot

open dialogue approaches and practical

tools. We have not at any time felt that they were

here to sell hours, but exclusively for

to create results  

Troels Hornsved,

Vice President Supply Chain 

Universal Robots A / S 

- Just two years ago, our setup was very artisanal  and based on the individual employee's skills, ”says
Troels Hornsved, Director of Supply Chain at Universal Robots. “We did not have a standardized flow in production, which was marked  of the fact that we had started as a development company, where mass production had not been considered in the product from the start. It was a difficult environment to grow in, says Troels Hornsved.  


Both Troels Hornsved and production manager Anders Lassen both have  earlier in his career worked with Maestro's DFT® principles. They both agreed  that it was the right way to go to create a high-volume business environment that was geared to the steep growth curve. Lack of structures must never become a bottleneck for growth.  


- I knew about the company Maestro Business and their methods from  a former workplace and knew they had a setup and some  tools that matched our needs. It was therefore natural to contact them, says Troels Hornsved about what became the start  on a journey from craft business to well-oiled high-tech  industrial enterprise.  

The transformation process - Ready for growth 

The transformation has so far consisted of three elements. In the first  In turn, leaders should be trained in the principles behind DFT®. Next  step was to design the physical framework of the company so that they  supported the long-term goals and the high demands on productivity.  Last but not least, all employees had to go through hands-on  training with a focus on DFT® and culture of improvement.  

All UR robots are made up of a number of joints and gears. Previously, the fitters on the production lines could have up to 30 joints  lying on the work table along with a lot of different  tool. When something was missing, the fitter had to take a trip to the warehouse  after supplies. This meant inappropriate handling, poor flow and a large loss of productivity.  

Maestro Business started by breaking down the assembly work into small processes with the aim of converting production from batch to one-piece flow. After this, the workplaces were arranged very specifically for the individual work tasks. This meant i.a. to  the production area could be reduced considerably, at the same time as a  increased production output.  

- I have worked a lot with Lean before - and with good results. But Maestro came with a different and unique toolbox  - Demand Flow® Technology - which i.a. has some significantly better tools for creating flow and balance in the production layout. That  made us i.a. able to very quickly see how the production lines should be designed and arranged. It was very valuable for us, says production manager Anders Lassen  

Anders web.jpg

Anders Lassen

From fix-it culture to continuous improvement 

As a young and fast-growing company, change is ready for change  a natural part of Universal Robots' DNA. This is an advantage - but  however, not without challenges - the whole organization reaches constantly  challenged by the demand for continuous performance improvement, strong growth, new products, a constant flow of new employees - and  of course, the day-to-day running of the business.  

Søren Helding Madsen is team leader at Universal Robots and has  been involved throughout the change process.  


- In an everyday life with speed across the field, there was a distinct "fix-it" culture among the fitters. It was hard to believe that one-piece flow should be an advantage over the way we were used to  produce on. But Maestro actively involved us in the process, and  we tried i.a. to test the different methods against each other.

It really was an eye opener! For example, the operator's handling fell from approx. 25 to 10 per. unit. The flexibility and speed we  experienced in the method was difficult to argue against. And today we can state that we build the same number of robots per week as 

we built about a year 5 years ago. It's a huge satisfaction  to be a part of, says Søren Helding Madsen.  

Production Manager Anders Lassen also highlights the introduction of whiteboards in production as a big plus in the daily work.

- It provides a good overview of resources used in relation to  the results of daily production. If a goal has not been  achieved, it must produce a "yellow note" with a task or improvement that requires action. It works really well and gets many continuous improvements - big and small - through every day, he states with satisfaction.  

Production based on Pull principles 

As part of the new structure, Maestro proposed a system based  on DFT®, which uses simple, visual signals for the fitters.  These signals have i.a. for the purpose of ensuring that production is in accordance with the Pull principle and that the production lines are several times a day  supplied with components from the warehouse. The latter has saved one  a lot of time, and means, among other things, that the fitters no longer have to spend  time to look for components in the warehouse.  

Logical storage system provides transparency 

Universal Robots is a pure assembly company, and all components are manufactured by subcontractors. The strong growth meant  Among other things, that the supply chain did not always manage to keep up, and failing deliveries on the part of the suppliers were not unusual.   

Maestro Business helped i.a. with the introduction of a new storage system, which should solve this problem. Among other things, introduced a visual "early-warning" system, which makes visible which components are in  danger of going short.  

- It is basically a very simple and practical solution, but  it's visual and it works really well - it's done a lot  for transparency, says Anders Lassen. 

  - Our buyers are notified much earlier now, and we avoid production stoppages due to missing components. That's a really good thing  example of how Maestro has managed to take us "up in the helicopter" to see the growth a little from above. They are even experienced business people who have given us really good and honest sparring both  at the strategic as well as at the very practical level.  

Improvement culture on the schedule 

On the journey towards the excellent business setup has building of  an improvement culture had a high priority at Universal Robots. 

- The employees have a unique and detailed knowledge, and it is important that we get this brought into play in our work with continuous improvements, says Ander Lassen. 

- Maestro helped introduce After Action Review® boards that we  apply every day on all production lines. Based on the daily goals and the day's results, we continuously build a common one  knowledge and understanding of how we maintain the good things and how we improve where necessary.  

Impressive results give courage to more 

Two years after the collaboration with Maestro started, the production department can show impressive results: 

  • The production area has been reduced by 30%, while output has doubled. This has only been possible due to DFT® and a well-structured production flow and is an important factor for continued growth. 

  • Productivity has increased by 50% in the period 2015 - 2017. 

  • The throughput time for a finished UR robot is reduced from 2 weeks to 3 days in the same period. And there are ambitions for further reductions.  


All this while Universal Robots continues up the impressive growth curve. The results also confirm Demand Flow® Technology as a good and safe choice for companies that, like Universal Robots, place the bar high in their pursuit of Operational Excellence. The good results have given blood on the teeth at Universal Robots, which sees great opportunities in  to extend the flexible setup to include sales and R&D.  

- In the long run, I also see that DFT® is being considered in our R&D work. How do we design the future robots so that we achieve yet  more with the DFT® principles ?, says Troels Hornsved about the ambitions for the future.  


The optimization of production has also - so far -  This means that you now see many UR robots working side by side with the fitters on the assembly lines - ie robots that build robots.   


- We have got a scalable production setup where it is easy to add capacity by extending the lines. As we grow, the assembly work will therefore be broken down into ever smaller sub-processes as the lines are extended. This opens continuously  up to deploy our own collaborative robots to handle some of the individual processes. We did not have that option at all in the previous setup. This is also a big win, says Troels  Hornsved and ends: 

- We have been incredibly happy with the collaboration with Maestro. They have given us sparring and competent counterplay in the field of management, 
combined with a very open dialogue on procedures and  practical tools. We have at no time felt that they were here to sell hours but solely to create results. 

About Universal Robots

Universal Robots works purposefully to make robot technology accessible to all industrial companies. The Danish company has taken the world by storm with its unique robots that optimize companies in a continuously growing market. With its user-friendly, affordable robots, Universal Robots has lowered barriers and made it profitable and uncomplicated to automate. 

Universal Robots has reinvented the industrial robot with a new generation of lightweight and flexible robot arms. The Danish-designed robots automate production in all industries and in all sizes of companies - also in SMEs that have previously had the perception that robots were too expensive and difficult to integrate into a smaller production. 

Universal Robots is headquartered in Odense, where the company employs more than  500 people. 

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