The Collaborative Robot Market is Set to Explode!

According to a report released by Interact Analysis, good things are coming to the collaborative robot market despite a downward revision of their 2019 report, which they put down to Covid-19 measures and competition from the SCARA robots used in the industry.

Nonetheless, the collaborative robot market has weathered the 2019 storm and looks set to grow by 15-20% over the next six years.

With this in mind, let’s look at what we can expect to see over this time period.

The Collaborative Robot (Cobots) Market

At first glance, the state of the market isn’t the best. In 2019 the economy which was effectively stopped for much of the year impacted negatively. In 2020, the market saw negative growth for the first time, especially in Asia. Revenue dropped by over 11% due to factory shutdowns and customers exercising caution due to uncertainty. Investor interest also dropped during this time.

According to Interact Analysis, however, the data shows that a V-shaped bounce back is imminent with a 20% growth rate expected by the end of 2021. This is expected to build between 15-20% annually.

Collaborative Robot

This is good news for numerous robot manufacturers who make robot manipulators, manipulatives arms and similar products. An example of them is Robotnik, a robotics company founded in 2002 and is currently a global reference in mobile robotics. This company designs, manufactures and markets autonomous and collaborative mobile robots and robots manipulators for every types of industries. The quality of its products & services have made it present in the main international markets.

From Conceptual to Strategy

It wasn’t too long ago that collaborative robots were more of a concept and investment was spartan as not too many saw the sector as a viable risk. Now, however, the development of the concept has now turned into strategic as more and more industries use  robots. Adoption has been driven by a number of factors including:

  • The development of robot custom where companies state their requirements and robotics companies such as Robotnik develop robots specifically to fulfil that role. Nowadays robots can be created for almost every types of needs. 
  • The development in the sophistication of the robots. This includes high-precision sensors, machine vision, end arm tools and improvements to safety protocols.
  • The fact they can work with a human workforce with the potential to replace human roles entirely.
  • Increases in demand from service industries such as medical, educational, logistics, retail, and catering.

Industry Adoption

The industries that are predicted to drive the growth of collaborative robots are in the automobile and electronic sectors. In 2019 they accounted for half of the market share. That said, it is difficult for newcomers to enter the space. This is not the case for other many service industries where growth is predicted to be high.

In 2019 the industry split was:

  • Automotive 16%.
  • Electronics 34%.
  • Semiconductor & FPD 8.3%.
  • Plastics and Rubber 7.8%.
  • Food & Beverage 7.6%.
  • Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals 5.5%.
  • Logistics 16.9%
  • Other 16.9%.

Part of the reason growth is expected to increase exponentially, is that new robotic manufacturers will enter the space bringing innovation that tech companies offer.

Applications

In 2019 material handling, pick and place, and assembly accounted for 71.9% of industry use. By 2024 it is believed that 62% of revenue will come from these applications.

Pick and place and assembly processes typically feature repetitive tasks that require precision. Although payloads are light and SCARA robots can handle the tasks, the ability of their collaborative counterparts to work with humans has made the latter highly desirable.

Machine tending is one of the biggest uses for cobots. Typically, this can involve dangerous and repetitive tasks which is why it is best done by a machine.

Interact Analysis believe pick and place will still see the most cobot use in 2024 although the research suggests that other applications for cobots are on the horizon.

Sales by Region

By location, China currently has the most demand for cobot technology. This is followed by Germany, the U.S. and South America. A more detailed look at which region will have the most demand for cobots between 2019-2024 is shown below.

  • China 16%.
  • Germany 12.7%.
  • North America 12.4%.
  • South America 11.1%
  • Eastern Europe 7.7%.
  • Rest of APAC 7.2%.
  • U.K 6.8%.
  • Japan 6.5%.
  • Rest of EMEA 6.2%.
  • France 6.1%.
  • Spain 5.8%.
  • Korea 5.8%
  • Italy 3.7%.

In the next five years, revenues are expected to grow at a CAGR of over 10% and it is expected the top four on the above list will be the biggest markets for cobots.

Interestingly, China, APAC and Eastern Europe are drawn to the cobot sector due to their low upfront costs, easy installation and use.

While North American and  European firms such as Robotnik are more interested in their safety features and benefits. North America is expected to see a strong take-up in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors, and food and beverage sectors to the point where they surpass sales to the plastic and rubber industry.

In Japan and South Korea, the ageing population has presented the countries with a labour shortage. Here, cobots are making up for the shortfall.

Innovation

It is expected that new players will enter the market and bring innovation and solutions to many sectors, making cobots an attractive proposition to both end user customers and investors.

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