A TEESSIDE tech firm has teamed up with Siemens to create a robot for chemical balance testing in shampoo.

Middlesbrough-based Applied Scientific Technologies (AST) believes there is huge potential for collaborative industrial robots, a movement being driven by the by the evolution of Industry 4.0 and sister initiatives such as Laboratory 4.0.

The company recently deployed its first prototype Siemens-enabled modular robot, the Hyve, into the cosmetics industry to help chemical balance testing in shampoo.

AST, a sister company to Applied Integration UK, Ltd., was set up specifically to develop innovative applications for the robot platform.

Since its launch, the company has been met with success as others look to leverage the collaborative technology as part of their Industry 4.0 strategies.

As a result, AST expects to deploy multiple Hyve platforms, which have a compact footprint allowing for integrated and automated factory processes, in 2020.

The platform, designed to work alongside humans as a collaborative robot, or "co-bot", can be a standalone system, operate in a Beehive-like architecture to form a production line or a as complete laboratory suite – allowing for greater flexibility, modularity and configurability compared to other platforms on the market.

Garry Lofthouse, director of Applied Integration UK Ltd, said: "In 2017, we did our research and set up AST to serve what we believe has huge potential for robotics.

“Being in the integration market and a Siemens Solution Partner for over 15 years, we already had the know-how and technology to develop a new product to serve the sector.

“The Hyve is an autonomous, collaborative robotic platform conceptualised to serve the consumer and life science industries and we have found huge scope for it already with cosmetics.

“The speed of design, development and deployment into this market could not have been possible without the connectivity and automation tools provided by Siemens.

"Siemens tools and interfaces lie at the heart of our platform and are the foundation we can build customer processes and applications on for our platform."

Since its installation in a beauty, cosmetics and personal care company, the technology is being used for product stability by testing how the product will react under conditions such as sunlight, mechanical vibration and temperature variations – looking for any chemical imbalances.

“While early adopters and deployments have focused on cosmetic products and packaging, we have produced the it with a view for use in the more regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, making it ideal for deployment in pharmaceutical laboratories or manufacturing,” Mr Lofthouse added.