Green Automation: BILA Embarks on a Global Robot Hunt


In the automation company BILA A/S, the service department is actively working to locate and acquire "unemployed robots" from around Europe, and then prepare them for a new "career" elsewhere.


BILA has not yet scrapped an entire robot. Good robots have a long lifespan if they are serviced and maintained. For example, many Kawasaki robots have a long life, and BILA, as the Scandinavian dealer for these Japanese robots for over three decades, is well aware of this. In Northern Norway, a used Kawasaki robot has been running 24/7 for 24 years in a fish production facility.


In this way, the automation company in Nykøbing Mors has been working with a circular economy long before it became a widely recognised concept.


In the last 10 years alone, 70 robots have found new owners with BILA's assistance. Other robots have been disassembled for spare parts, allowing customers to quickly get help from BILA's service team to get back up and running, even in times of component shortages.


"Right now, we have nine used robots in stock. They are in high demand, and we have sold an exceptionally large number this year. The models vary, but they are typically suitable for tasks within handling, packing, and palletising,"


Brian Ejsing, Team Leader, Service Nord, BILA A/S


There are noticeable economic benefits to BILA's circular business model. The model enables BILA to sell more without using new materials and resources. Buyers can often get away with paying about a third of the price of a new robot when choosing to invest in a system with a used robot.


"It's wonderful when something is both sustainable and a good business move for all parties. When automation systems are installed, especially in larger companies, older robots can sometimes become redundant in that production. It can happen when items are phased out. They then call me and ask if BILA would like to take over the robot equipment. We usually agree, regardless of the robot brand. Because then we can better help small and medium-sized businesses afford automation," says Brian Ejsing.


Growing Interest in Buying Used


Interest in used robot technology is growing, and therefore, Brian Ejsing is also more proactive in acquiring, reusing, and reselling used robots. Through advertising and contacts throughout Europe, he tracks down robots and has them transported to Denmark, where they are serviced and possibly retrofitted. Afterward, the robots are bought or leased by customers both domestically and internationally, and BILA also exports used robots.


Robots that cannot be repaired are disassembled, and the parts that can be used as spare parts for other robots are saved for this purpose, ensuring all raw materials are recycled. It's not always just the robot itself that can be reused by new customers. Other components such as safety enclosures, tables, conveyors, and tools are standard components that also have a high degree of recyclability. They can be reused in new similar installations or more specific project tasks.


One of the used robots from BILA, for example, is now busy at the oven manufacturer Hounö in Randers. Previously, it was used by a production company in Northern Jutland, where it automated the production of jewelry boxes for Pandora. But now, it is fully engaged in cleaning stainless steel welds inside the cabinets of combination ovens with a laser. Production Manager at Hounö, Rasmus Revsbæk, is satisfied with both automating a process at an affordable price.


"We couldn't find an off-the-shelf solution that suited us, and therefore, we have chosen to develop the solution ourselves. We have, among other things, bought a renovated robot from BILA instead of a new one. At the same time, we have combined two processes in the same robot cell. In addition to laser cleaning, rods are welded in the cell to stabilise the oven,"


Rasmus Revsbæk Hansen, Production Manager, Hounö


Published in October 2022

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