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Top Factors Impacting the Demand for Industrial Robots| Fortune Business Insights™

July 19, 2021 | Machinery & Equipment

The paradigmatic transformations in industrial operations are being driven by the increasing adoption of automation technologies in manufacturing plants and factories. In particular, robotics is steadily becoming an integral part of the industrial landscape and with efficiency and productivity being the central ideals pursued by companies, the deployment of robots powered by artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT) will soon become a common sight in this Industry 4.0 era.


According to Fortune Business Insights™, the global market size for industrial robots will reach USD 81.42 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 16.6%. So, what’s driving this market?


Collaborative Robots: An Exciting New Subset in Industrial Robotics


The want of healthy and dynamic human-machine interaction has led to the development of collaborative robots (cobots), a subcategory under industrial robots, which have emerged as a boon for finance-constrained small & medium manufacturers. Programmed to move safely around humans, cobots have considerably enhanced productivity in factories and plants as they consume less power, occupy smaller spaces, and some of the more advanced variants can also replicate human behavior. Leading robotic specialists, such as ABB and Mitsubishi, are engineering novel collaborative robots to cater to this evolving trend. For example, in February 2021, ABB introduced the GoFa™ and SWIFTI™ cobot families, expanding its cobot portfolio. Aimed to complement ABB’s Single Arm YuMi and YuMi lineups, SWIFTI and GoFa have been designed to carry larger payloads and move at higher speeds, making them an ideal automation solution for a wide plethora of industries ranging from logistics and transportation to consumer goods and food processing.


Another major company reaching new milestones and breaching new frontiers of innovation is the Danish cobot wizard, Universal Robots. This company has been at the forefront of industrial robotics, actively partnering with prominent tech companies and diversifying its portfolio while expanding its business. In March 2021, for instance, Universal Robots announced that its collaborative robots will be part of the Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) portal developed by Siemens. Through this portal, machine developers and system integrators will be able to unify cobot arms in complex manufacturing settings. The advent of cobots is thus seen as an instrumental growth accelerator for this market.


Robots in the Logistics Sector: Heralding New Possibilities


The logistics sector is rapidly expanding, underpinned by the growing intensity of globalization and economic interdependence, along with stupendous advancements in wireless connectivity. Furthermore, increasing urbanization and the proliferation of e-commerce platforms around the globe have heightened the demand for automated warehouse management solutions. In response, innovators in logistics robotics are investing heavily to build robots and enhance the potential of e-commerce logistics and supply chains. For example, in May 2021, JASCI Software, a specialist in warehousing technologies, acquired NextShift Robotics, a leader in warehouse automation. The takeover will give JASCI a vantage position to bridge the gap between the scarcity of warehouse workers and the rising need for smart solutions for warehouse management. In another instance, BMW i Ventures, the auto giant’s venture capital arm, invested an undisclosed amount into Plus One Robotics, known for formulating vision software for logistics, in May 2021. The idea behind this investment is to speed up automation in the logistics industry. Further, companies such as XPO Logistics have also gained prominence for their concerted efforts to elevate the “smart” quotient in warehousing. XPO Logistics, for instance, invests nearly USD 500 million every year to research & develop solutions that can boost the efficiency of warehouses. The incorporation of industry-purposed robots in the transport and logistics sector is creating exhilarating opportunities in this market.


COVID-19 Pandemic: The Perfect Storm for Robot Deployment?


The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up unforeseen, unprecedented, and unparalleled challenges to all industries alike. However, the coronavirus crisis has been the perfect storm, a blessing in disguise for industrial robotics. As per Fortune Business Insights™, the market for industrial robots grew at an impressive 13.5% in 2020 amid the pandemic. Several companies are attempting to leverage robots to perform routine tasks, thus freeing up human resources to focus on more intellectually demanding activities. For example, in early 2020 when the pandemic erupted, Lux Capital and Pegasus Ventures announced keen interest in investing in ideas targeted towards automation and robotics. Companies such as Massachusetts-based Teradyne have been strategically acquiring entities specializing in robotics, while ABB is tapping into opportunities created by the shortage of skilled labor in the construction industry with robotic solutions. Furthermore, robots have proved instrumental in this fight against the coronavirus. In Kansas, for example, FANUC’s SR-6iA SCARA machine vision-guided robots were deployed by Interactive Design to automatically orient, feed, and load swabs and seal them in packaging machines. The COVID-19 pandemic has, therefore, proved hugely beneficial for this market.


Will Robots Fully Replace Humans in the Future?


While robotics is certainly a revolutionary technology that will have significant economic, political, and social consequences, it is a bit far-fetched to imagine that robots will replace humans wholesale. Automation technologies are only meant to aid human endeavors, not take their place in the larger scheme of things. This is because no machine can be taught to judge, interact, and make decisions like a human, even though many Hollywood movies have comprehensively explored this possibility. However, the potential displayed by robotics is boundless and must be exploited for the betterment of society.   

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