The World Robotics Report 2017, released today by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) forecasts 18% growth in industrial robot installations for 2017, with growth of about 15% 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” 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 (cobots) is forecasted to play in the growth. “Human-robot collaboration” is mentioned over and over as the predominant trend, accompanied by simplification, ease of use and installation, light weight, mobility and low cost. These factors are the very hallmarks of cobots as envisioned by Universal Robots, the global market leader in the cobot segment.
“The latest World Robotics Report forecasts could hardly be more in line with our own expectations – and vision – at Universal Robots,” says Universal Robots CTO & co-founder Esben Østergaard. “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 to automate their manufacturing easily and affordably.”
Again this 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.
“Most industries can benefit from a greater degree of automation,” says Esben Østergaard. “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,” Esben Østergaard concludes.
Read about the World Robotics Report 2017 here.