The US auto sector “buys every second industrial robot” sold, according to a report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR)
The US economy is one of the front-runners in the global automation race. By 2018, the number of industrial robots sold will, on average, rise by at least five per cent per annum, to a new record of 31,000 units (2014: 26,202).
About one-half of these will be installed by car makers and their suppliers. Viewed according to robotic density – meaning the number of industrial robots per 10,000 employees – the US automotive industry, with 1,141 units, already ranks third in the world’s national economies after Germany (1,149 units) and Japan (1,414 units). These are the calculations published in the report 2015 World Robot Statistics, issued by IFR.
Kuka, one of the world’s biggest industrial robotics companies, is to develop a smart manufacturing platform in collaboration with Chinese communications giant Huawei.
Kuka and Huawei signed a deal to develop what could be a global network – built on the industrial internet of things – to enable the connection of robots across many factories. The companies say they plan to integrate artificial intelligence and deep learning into the system.
In the new manufacturing era, robots will play an increasingly important role in helping manufacturing businesses remain agile and drive growth, say the two companies.
Industrial robots are increasingly being connected to the cloud, where they can be managed centrally in some sort of control room, which means that a small number of human staff could theoretically manage hundreds, if not thousands, of machines.
Previously they were almost always operated in isolated circumstances within factories, inside a work cell, fenced off from human workers because of safety concerns. They were programmed individually, using a teach pendant, which is like a 20-years-out-of-date oversized mobile phone.
Alnea says its new robot-based soldering process is in compliance with international standards.
The soldering process used in so-called through-hole technology (THT) requires the utmost precision. The small structures and the close proximity of components that must not be wetted leave no room for error.
With THT, repair processes are time- and cost-intensive, often not reproducible and in some cases not even allowed.
Simulation, 3D printing, lightweight robots – these are some of the innovative technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution – or Industry 4.0. And they are already a reality at Siemens’ Electronics Manufacturing Plant in Erlangen, Germany. A key reason for the success of this plant is that people and machines work hand in hand.
Schorsch assembles small converters. Hannes does the big ones; he inserts a fan and a heat sink in the housing and fastens them with four screws – several hundred times a day. When Hannes takes a break, Schorsch keeps on working unwaveringly.
Finding statistics on the install base of robots is not as straightforward as it might be, but RoboticsandAutomationNews.com has compiled its own list of available data and the bar chart below is the result.
Many well known companies are missing from the list and graph, but that’s because we could not find any credible and up to date figures for their install base.
We will of course try and persuade those companies to release that information to us so that we can provide a more complete picture of the market.
We’ve called this list “Top 9”, but that is based on available information.
Update:Fanuc claims to have sold 400,000 robots worldwide. That takes it from fourth on our previous list to first place in the new 2016 list. So, Fanuc is now the world’s largest maker of industrial robots according to the latest information we have. We will update the list as and when we get more information.
Update: Epson claims to have sold 10,000 more robots worldwide since our previous list. The company says it now has 55,000 industrial robots installed worldwide. Our previous list had their install base at 45,000 – this has now been updated (below).
Update:Comau says it has 30,000 robots installed worldwide. In exclusive comments to Robotics and Automation News, a senior executive at the Italian company provided the statistic as part of an extended interview. Our previous list did not include Comau as we could not find the data – this has now been updated (below).
Update: ABB says it has 300,000 robots installed worldwide, up from our previous number of 250,000. We have updated the list, and will update the pie chart at a later date. The new figure places ABB in joint-second place, along with Yaskawa, although our list shows ABB at number 3.
Update: Foxconn says it has installed 40,000 industrial robots in China, according to reports. We had not found this in official company documents, which is why we did not initially include it in the list for now. However, the report was in a reliable publication, so we have decided to include it.
Update: Stäubli is one of the original robot manufacturers, and still one of the largest. We estimate that the company has a large number of robots installed worldwide. However, in the absence of any available data, we have made our estimate as to how many robots the company has installed worldwide.