The industrial sector is currently the largest market for robots – with applications in automotive; electronics or electrical; metal fabrication; and other segments.
According to the International Federation of Robotics, the market for industrial robots is at record levels.
In 2015, robot sales increased by 15 per cent to just over than 250,000 units sold worldwide. China was estimated the biggest buyer.
The automotive sector is by far the biggest customer for industrial robots – around half of all industrial robots sold are bought by the automotive sector.
Cars themselves are increasingly becoming robotic, in the sense that they are being equipped with more autonomous features, and can now drive themselves.
But that aside, if we look at the traditional industrial robot manufacturers we can see who the leaders are what changes are taking place.
According to a survey into the robot manufacturing market by RoboticsAndAutomationNews.com, Fanuc is the largest robot manufacturer in the world, with more than 400,000 industrial robots installed worldwide. Yaskawa Motoman is second, followed by ABB and Kawasaki.
All the figures are taken from the manufacturers themselves, and are subject to change as and when we get more information.
One new entrant to the list this year is Universal Robots. This is interesting because Universal makes different kind of robots. They’re called collaborative robots, and they’re different in the sense that they are safe enough for humans to use collaboratively.
Until collaborative robots came along, industrial robots were sectioned off into their own safe zones and humans were not allowed to be near them because of the risk of accidents.
Collaborative robots have a number of safety features which make it possible for humans to work with them closely.
As well as Universal, most other leading companies have recently launched collaborative robot models, the most well-known of which are ABB, and Rethink Robotics.