A new report points to increased demand for industrial robots, spurred by previously postponed and deferred orders, as well as reinvestment in plant renovation, modernization, and capacity expansions.
In a new study, Global Industry Analysts Inc. (GIA), a market research organization in San Jose, Calif., reports that the global market for industrial robotics will reach 143,000 units by 2015. Market growth will come from “expanding application possibilities, technology developments, rising value propositions, demographic shifts, and ensuing labor shortages,” according to a statement from GIA.
In 2008 and 2009, reduced manufacturing activities and declines in industrial production temporarily derailed the immediate need and requirement for new industrial robotic products and equipment. Given the sensitivity of the robotics industry to the health of the automotive, consumer goods, semi-conductor and electronics, and rubber and plastic industries, the decline in new purchase orders for robot installations came as no surprise.
The automotive industry, one of the largest end-user sectors, played a role in limiting the growth of industrial robotics. Massive declines in new vehicle sales, continuous trimming of auto plant production capacities, plant closures, capacity idling, and reduction in automobile output resulted in reducing the number of robotic machinery orders.
Resurgence in Spending
The deterioration in robotics growth in the automotive sector has been largely temporary, however, and the recession has not changed the economic fundamentals of industrial robotics, which is rooted in the advantages of manufacturing, production, and labor cost efficiency. That fact is mirrored by the auto market’s sharp recovery in 2010.
Key reasons for the quick resurgence in spending on robotic automation is the accumulation of postponed and deferred orders, as well as reinvestment of manufacturers in plant renovation, modernization, and capacity expansions. Also, manufacturers are reevaluating investment priorities on technologies/products that help improve efficiency and reduce costs.
The advantages of automation will now spread to other industrial sectors, such as plastics, rubber, and food and beverage handling and processing. Emerging areas such as high-volume toy manufacturing and medical and healthcare will create substantial demand for industrial robots over the next few years.
Additionally, new product developments, such as industrial robots that act as independent systems by using their artificial reasoning skills in performing a range of tasks independently, will drive increased adoption of industrial robots. Technological advancements in the fields of machine vision and distribution motion control will further increase demand.
Demographic trends, such as an aging population and declining birth rates in several western countries and Japan also project extensive use of industrial robots in these nations to meet the demand-supply gap.
Key Regions for Growth
According to GIA’s report, Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing regional market, with volume sales of industrial robots in the region at a CAGR of about 9.6 percent over the period studied by the research firm. Growth in this market will be driven by countries such as South Korea and China, which host some of the leading electronics manufacturers in the world. This should spur demand for robots capable of handling production of a range of electronic products.
Increase in outsourced manufacturing activity in low-cost destinations such as China and India is also creating the demand for industrial robotics in the region. By end-use, assembly line represents the largest application market for industrial robotics worldwide. Welding, however, remains a key contributor to volume sales for industrial robots in North America and Europe.
Major players in the market include ABB Limited, Adept Technology, Inc., American Robot Corporation, Denso Wave Incorporated, Evolution Robotics, Inc., FANUC Corporation, iRobot Corporation, Kawasaki Robotics (USA) Inc, KUKA Roboter GmbH, Panasonic Welding Systems Co., Ltd., Nachi-Fujikoshi Corporation, RoboGroup TEK Ltd., Rockwell Automation Inc, ST Robotics, STAUBLI Corporation, YASKAWA Electric Corporation, among others.
The research report, Industrial Robotics: A Global Strategic Business Report, is available for sale from Global Industry Analysts at www.strategyr.com/Industrial_Robotics_Market_Report.asp.