Robotics & Automation News

Market trends and business perspectives

Collaborative robots are driving the global market, says Universal Robots

Daniel Friis, Universal Robots
Daniel Friis, Universal Robots

The International Federation of Robots, the source of much authoritative research about the industry, has released its latest survey of the global market. 

With such a wide-ranging study, there’s probably something for everyone to highlight which is relevant to them.

For example, from the point of view of Universal Robots, the IFR report’s most interesting and relevant finding is that collaborative robots have been the market driver in recent times.

Given that Universal is a manufacturer of collaborative industrial robots, the fact that they consider that particular aspect of IFR’s study most noteworthy may not be surprising.

Universal recently announced that it has so far sold 10,000 of its collaborative robots worldwide, which probably makes it the world’s largest manufacturer of collaborative robots

Without data from other companies about sales of their collaborative robots, it’s only a “probably”, but the general perception is that Universal is doing very well in the market.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the collaborative market develops and observe the competition between the different suppliers of the new, innovative machines, especially as the potential is believed to be huge.

Big market data 

The IFR study, The World Robotics Report 2016, highlights how compact, user-friendly collaborative robots are expected to drive the automation market.

The report predicts the worldwide annual sales of industrial robots to increase by at least 13 per cent on average per year from 2017 to 2019.

Human-robot collaboration will have a “breakthrough” in this period, enabling robots and humans to work safely side-by-side without any fences, while increasing production efficiency and quality.

Daniel Friis, chief commercial officer of Universal Robots, says: “As the market leader of the cobot industry, Universal Robots welcomes the report which confirms the validity of our mission: lowering barriers and enabling automation in areas previously considered too complex or costly.

“Our installed base of more than 10,000 cobots worldwide illustrates the dramatic growth potential of this game-changing automation technology. We enable small and medium-sized enterprises to optimize their competitiveness on the global stage with an average robot payback period of just 195 days.”

Industries predicted by IFR to adopt cobots at an increasing rate includes automotive, the plastics industry, electronics assembly and the machine tool industry. These are all sectors where Universal Robots is seeing strong traction.

Friis says: “UR robots are now increasingly deployed on the auto assembly line, literally working hand-in-hand with employees, relieving them of ergonomically unfavorable tasks. We have recent case studies documenting how cobots quadrupled injection molding production, and our our new UR3 table-top robot is now a sought-after automation tool for light assembly such as circuit board handling.

“At the recent machine tool show IMTS in Chicago, we experienced an overwhelming interest from attendees that were not just kicking tires, exploring the new cobot technology. They came to our booth ready to place orders.”

Global perspective 

The Americas region is expected to see strong continued cobot growth according to the IFR report. However, China is predicted to remain the main driver of robot growth, expanding its dominance with almost 40 per cent of the global robot supply being installed in China by 2019.

Friis says cobots – as part of Industry 4.0 – will close the gap between people and machines on the factory floor.

He says: “China is a strong focus area for Universal Robots. We opened a Shanghai subsidiary in 2013 and are constantly expanding our distributor network in the region where customers are increasingly using our cobots to optimize product quality and automate repetitive tasks that the Chinese have difficulty staffing with manual labor.”

The demand for consumer goods across global markets is pushing manufacturers to produce innovative, high-quality products more quickly, consistently, and sustainably around the world. Cobots redeploy human creativity with robotic repeatability to address market evolution and customer requirements.

Friis says: “At Universal Robots, we define ‘collaborative‘ not only by our robot’s built-in safety features but also by ease-of-use and ease of integration. This is what really sets us apart from competition.”

Universal Robots has just launched Universal Robots+, an online showroom for end-effectors, software, peripherals and accessories from the UR ecosystem of third-party developers that are optimized and verified to work flawlessly with UR robots.