Last year, we saw how robotics ventured and reshaped new markets beyond the manufacturing industry and supply chain/logistics market, Keith Shaw of robotics website Robotics Business Review said. Time and again, robots have shown to address labor shortages and perform dangerous tasks.
Within traditional fields, advances in AI and software enabled robots to undertake new tasks and work along with humans more collaboratively than before. This year, let us take a look at the future of the robotics sector in different situations. There will also be industry experts who will share their predictions about the sector for this year and the next decade.
An Increased Awareness of Robots From the 2020 Olympics
The event will be used to showcase Japan’s latest efforts in robotics. We expect to see robots assisting guests with information about different venues and AVs to shuttle people around. We might also see drones and counter-drone systems o bolster security during the games. The media will cover both the positive and negative aspects of robotics. Still, the games may help people become more aware of robotics.
Industrial Robots and Cobots Will Continue to Play a Role In Businesses
In another article written by Shaw, research director at Interact Analysis Ash Sharma told Robotics Business Review showed interesting statistics about the industrial robot market. He said that the market will experience robust growth, which will be attributed to over 400,000 units shipped in 2020, an 11% increase from 2019. Further, China will consume 1 in 2 robots sold in 2020. Mobile robot revenues will surpass $3 billion for the first time in 2020.
Over 120,000 order fulfillment robots (aside from Amazon’s) will be deployed at the end of 2020. In the US, investments in micro-fulfillment grocery stores will double to over $100 million in 2020. Also, piece-picking robots will be the fastest growing warehouse automation technology in the US, with a growth rate of just under 100% in 2020.
How about the debate between industrial robots and cobots? Fortunately, that debate will fade this year as new technologies emerge to “give the benefits of one type to another.” We have seen cobots get bigger and faster, as well as industrial robots that can slow down or stop when approaching humans. Buying decisions by clients will less about the type of robot, but more about the process or application being automated, whether a human is needed with that process, and how long the process will take to complete.
Even if cobots are phased out in traditional industrial settings due to new sensors being installed on faster industrial robots, they will still find a place in small and mid-size manufacturing environments. This is because some enterprises experience labor shortages for skilled workers in occupations such as welding, painting, polishing, and CNC machine tending.
More Investments in Robotics
Worldwide spending on robotics is projected to reach $112.4 billion in 2020 at a CAGR of 17.8%, as found by IDC (International Data Corporation), a market intelligence firm. Hardware purchases will dominate the robotics market, with 60% of all spending going towards after-market robotics hardware, robotic systems, and system hardware.
On the other hand, robotics-related software spending will be allotted to command and control applications and robotics-specific applications. Meanwhile, services spending will be divided across several segments such as systems integration, application management, and hardware deployment and support. Services spending is expected to grow faster (21.3% CAGR) than software or hardware spending (21.2% CAGET and 15.5% CAGR, respectively).
“Software developments are among the most important trends currently shaping the robotics industry. Solution providers are progressively integrating additional software-based, often cloud-based, functionalities into robotics systems,” as stated by Remy Gleisner, a research director at Worldwide Robotics: Commercial Service Robots. One example is an asset management application to track the performance of the robotic equipment in real-time.
He added, “It aligns solutions with current expectations for modern operational technology (OT) at large and plays in facilitated adoption by operations leaders.” Discrete manufacturing will be responsible for nearly half of all global robotics systems spending this year, with purchases amounting to $53.8 billion. The industries that will witness the fastest growth in robotics systems spending over the 2019-2023 forecast period are wholesale (30.5% CAGR), retail (29.3% CAGR), and construction (25.2% CAGR).
A Shift In Attitude About Robots
Petter Kilefors and Ingrid af Sandeberg of Arthur D. Little said they are starting to see a shift in mindset from “robots are here to take over our jobs” to “robots can complement us.” They are already used to augment humans as human-machine interaction improves and use cases refined. Such use cases include remote telerobotics or even replacing humans in extreme environments and freeing up time to assist highly skilled physicians.
Joe Campbell, the Head of Strategic Marketing and Applications Development at Universal Robots North America asserted that he is seeing companies consider automation given America’s record low unemployment rates. They are not doing it to replace humans but they just can’t find them. Sadly, the situation is less likely to improve as millennials are not interested in working in the manufacturing industry.
More industries will invest in robotics to optimize processes and improve worker safety. Further, industrial robots/cobots will complement human workers in the factory. We expect to see more advances in the field of robotics this year and in the future.