The ever-increasing automation in industry has led to the collaborative robots market to experience a recent increase in popularity, according to Interact Analysis. (See infographic below.)
Further tied to the rising cost and lack of labour needed to complete menial and monotonous tasks, it is easy to foresee why cobots could become a relevant addition to the future workforce.
But is this hype, or will cobots become a common-sight next to human workers? And how will they complement or affect the traditional industrial robot market? These are just some of the questions that remain to be answered.
Universal Robots was the largest supplier of cobots in 2017, commanding nearly a 50 percent share of global revenues.
The Danish company has done an impressive job of cornering this market, by offering easy-to-integrate cobots with simple programming.
However, as highlighted in this earlier insight, the company faces many new challengers.
The cobot industry was worth less than $400 million last year but is set to grow to nearly $600 million in 2018.
Furthermore, growth is forecast to accelerate due to the wider availability of collaborative robots from mainstream industrial robot vendors, the greater awareness at small and medium enterprises, and the wider adoption by the major original equipment manufacturers.
By 2027, we forecast that revenues will reach $7.5 billion and account for 29 percent of the industrial robot market.
The types of industry and applications adopting collaborative robots has been equally diverse.
This is likely to continue; however, we predict that this will evolve in a similar way to industrial robots, with electronics and automotive being the two largest vertical applications.
Pick and place, assembly and material handling processes are forecast to be the biggest uses of collaborative robots. These three functions will account for 75 percent of all collaborative robot revenues in the next five years.
Whilst the ~5 kg payload category has been the sweet spot for collaborative robots, several products have been launched above and below this weight category.
A number of products are targeted at pick and place and assembly applications below 1 kg, which can undertake repetitive tasks extremely efficiently.