Industrial Robotics Market Oppportunities And Challenges

The industrial robotics market size (including the prices of peripherals, software and system engineering) is expected to grow from USD 48.7 billion in 2019 to USD 75.6 billion by 2024, at a CAGR of 9.2%. Shortage of skilled labor in manufacturing and the growing adoption of collaborative robots are the key driving factors. Apart from this, technological improvements and integration of AI and IoT in robotic manufacturing is another market driver.

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Traditional industrial robots have been around for more than 50 years. Several key players dominate the market for these robots. Initially, these robots were costly and were used in large industries engaged in high volume production, such as the automotive sector. Over the years, however, the cost of robots have significantly decreased. Smaller companies are now looking at automation to optimize manufacturing costs. EPSON, for instance, offers several low-cost robots priced below USD 15,000. Targeting SMEs and developing countries with low-cost robots present an excellent growth opportunity for robot manufacturers.

On the other hand, there have been substantial developments in software which control and monitor industrial robots. Robots are becoming easier to program, enabling easy implementation, as well as smooth integration of peripherals such as end-effectors and vision systems. Offline and teach pendent programming is more common than ever before. Manufacturers are also integrating technologies such as IoT, AI, and 5G for tasks such as predictive maintenance and synchronizing multiple robots. Manufacturers like FANUC (Japan) have enabled the execution of IoT application on their FIELD system, allowing for the design of smarter control processes. Such technologies are expected to bring significant value to the industrial robotics market in the coming years. These developments also fall in line with government initiatives such as the Industrie 4.0 and the Made in China 2025 initiative, which is expected to boost the growth and implementation of these technologies further.

The industrial robotics market is segmented into two categories, viz., traditional industrial robots, and collaborative industrial robots. Collaborative industrial robots are expected to grow at a significant rate from 2019 to 2024 when compared to traditional industrial robots. Collaborative robots generally have a payload limit of 10 kilograms and can be used alongside humans, without safety cages or enclosures. Thus, these robots can be deployed in factories with limited workspace. They are also easy to program and do not require specialized operators for setup and maintenance. Many of the emerging companies are exclusively offering collaborative robots owing to its huge growth potential. The Panda Powertool collaborative robot from Franka Emika (Germany) features physical hardware buttons on the robot itself for various control functions, which helps it to differentiate itself from others. Techman Robots (Taiwan), another relatively new company offering collaborative robots, has also seen success in the market. Companies like NACHI-FUJIKOSHI (Japan) which focused only on traditional industrial robots recently released its first collaborative robot, the CZ10 in 2018. Catering to the collaborative robot market has the potential to bring significant revenues for a company in the future.

The industrial robotics market for the metals & machinery industry is expected to grow at a significant CAGR during the forecast period. Industrial robots will likely replace manual labor in the near future. With the increasing shortage of labor workforce in the coming years, a much lower number of workers will be inclined to perform dirt and hazardous tasks in this industry. Manufacturers such as Dynabrade (US) have developed robotic sanders for use with collaborative robots. Force/torque sensors are enabling delicate, repetitive, and strenuous tasks such as glass polishing. Robotic software can compensate for wear and tear of deburring and grinding tools for consistent results. Such developments, coupled with the workforce shortage, is expected to boost automation in the metals and machinery industry. This will expose fewer workers to hazardous particulates, such as metal dust and improve the overall health and safety of these workers

The market in APAC is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during 2019–2024. Developing countries in APAC such as India and Thailand have witnessed significant growth in automation. Because of technological and economic advancements, the overall demand for industrial robots is expected to increase across the countries mentioned above. Furthermore, government initiatives and subsidies to promote local manufacturing are expected to have a significant contribution to the growth of the industrial robotics market during the forecast period. For instance, Mitsubishi Electric (Japan) announced the establishment of a factory automation center in Tamil Nadu, India. The goal was to further improve access to timely service and support for factory automation products in the country. Players in the industrial robotics market can reap the benefits of strong demand from the APAC region if they start partnering with distributors or establish subsidiaries regionally.

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