Growing industry automation

by Bertrand COPIGNEAUX

Robotics are getting a boost from both the development of emerging key technologies and from manufacturing’s digital transformation. The manufacturing industry continues to be the most promising market, but opportunities are opening up in other sectors as well.

A market still dominated by industrial robotics

The robotics market is expected to be worth more than 90 billion EUR by 2030, thanks to an average annual growth rate of close to 13% from 2018 onwards. The manufacturing industry will remain the biggest vertical market for robotics during that time, followed by logistics. Growth will be driven chiefly by the already mature traditional industrial robots market, and the newly expanding cobot (collaborative robot) and exoskeleton robot markets.

Among other things, robotics will affect how products are designed, produced and transported, with the development of the Smart Factory concept and the adoption of digital technologies in supply chains.

Manufacturing is the biggest robotics market

Robot sales by segment, in 2019 and 2025

Source : IDATE DigiWorld in "Robotics"

Increasingly present vertical players

Traditional industrial robot manufacturers are those with the largest number of prototypes ready to take to market. Aside from this already mature industrial robotics market, most “pure” robot-makers are small companies, developing customised robots as part of solutions designed for specific applications. Here, pure players and startups are the ones developing the most innovative use cases.

We have nevertheless observed that, when a market segment develops, there is a tendency for players from the target vertical industry to step in, often taking over from pure players and generalist robot manufacturers. For instance, we are currently seeing farming, medical equipment and logistics industry players moving into prime positions on the robotics front in their markets.

Europe challenging Japan in robot sales

Industrial robot vendor rankings by sales revenue, in 2017

Source : Statista

South Korea has a solid lead in the use of robots, but substiantial adoption in Europe as well

Country rankings by robot density, in 2018

Source : World Robotics, 2019

Robotics and industry 4.0

Traditional industrial robotics will continue to be the most lucrative market for the manufacturing and logistics sectors between 2018 and 2030, enjoying average annual growth of 9.5% during that time, thanks to the emergence of industry 4.0. This market is dominated by classic industrial robots, but being joined more and more by collaborative robots that can interact with human workers, and provide cheaper, more flexible solutions. Manufacturers’ need to control and utilise data in real time, to streamline their production process, is an other core enabler for the development of industry 4.0.

This is paving the way for investments in production and logistics infrastructures, widely supported by industry players and national governments. In both Germany and South Korea, for instance, investments are concentrated largely on developing technical solutions, whereas in France and China most of the money is being spent on updating existing industries.

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