The International Federation of Robotics’ new report into the global industrial robotics market predicts significant growth in the collaborative robotics segment.
Universal Robots is widely regarded as the market leader in collaborative robots, having been the first to launch such machines almost 10 years ago and having sold more than 10,000 units since.
Having started out in Denmark, Universal Robots is now part of the US industrial giant Teradyne.
Universal Robots CTO & co-founder Esben Østergaard says the IFR report’s projections about the collaborative robotics market is “in line” with the company’s expectations.
The World Robotics Report 2017, released by the IFR, forecasts 18 per cent growth in industrial robot installations for 2017, with growth of about 15 per cent forecast for 2018–2020.
Stronger-than-expected growth in the global economy, faster business cycles, greater variety in customer demand, and the emergence and expected scaling up of Industry 4.0 – or industrial internet – concepts are all factors behind the optimistic forecast.
Of particular interest, but “no great surprise” to Universal Robots is the leading role that collaborative robots – or cobots – is forecasted to play in the growth.
“Human-robot collaboration” is mentioned by IFR as the predominant trend, accompanied by simplification, ease of use and installation, light weight, mobility and low cost.
Universal Robots says these factors are “the very hallmarks of cobots” as the envisions them.
Østergaard, says: “The latest World Robotics Report forecasts could hardly be more in line with our own expectations – and vision – at Universal Robots.
“We see a role for traditional industrial robots in Industry 4.0 setups, but we continue to expect the cobot segment to show the strongest growth, driven by trends such as accelerating demand for consumer goods that display an element of ‘the human touch’ along with consistently high quality and a continued need among SMEs [small and medium size enterprises] to automate their manufacturing easily and affordably.”
Similar to last year, the IFR report sees growing demand for robotic automation in a wide range of industries, including the auto industry, electronics, rubber and plastics, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, and metals.
Asia is forecasted to lead the market growth by a wide margin, with Europe and America showing continued growth, but at lower unit volumes.
Østergaard says: “Most industries can benefit from a greater degree of automation.
“Robotic automation improves consistency of quality and consistency of flow, and that’s something that everyone needs. Cobots are especially compelling today for several reasons.
“They work together with human workers instead of replacing them – especially valuable where the loss of manufacturing jobs is a sensitive issue. They can help companies reshore manufacturing.
“They are particularly useful in manufacturing setups that involve higher-margin, mass-personalized products.
“And for SMEs cobots remain the best way to gain the benefits of automation without breaking the bank. For Universal Robots, this is truly our time.”