Perfect conditions, some might say a perfect storm, have arisen that should see that widespread adoption of robots and automation in service industries in the near future.
Industrial Robotics & Automation Shooting Through the Roof
According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), 2013 saw the highest number of industrial robots ever sold, with a total of 1.6 million units worth an estimated $10 billion. In Asia, the most active region for robotics, 98,807 industrial robots were sold, an increase of 17% over the previous year, led by China with 36,560 industrial robots sold. As expected, Germany led Europe with 18,300 industrial robots sold, an increase of 4%. Finally, there were 30,000 robots shipped to the Americas, an increase of 8%.
According to the IFR, double-digit growth will continue through the end of this decade with more and more countries adopting robots and automation. According to IFR:
- Global competition requires modernization of production facilities.
- Energy-efficiency and new materials, e.g. carbon-composites, require retooling of production.
- Human-machine collaboration will open up new applications and attract new customers.
- Growing consumer markets require expansion of production capacities.
- Decline in products’ life-cycle and increase in the variety of products require flexible automation.
- Technical improvements of industrial robots will increase the use of robots in the general industry and in small and medium-sized companies, e.g. user-friendly robots, uncomplicated, and low-priced robots for simple applications.
- Improved quality requires sophisticated, high-tech robot systems.
- Robots improve the quality of work by taking over dangerous, tedious, and dirty jobs that are not possible or safe for humans to perform.
Spillover to Service Industries Underway
With all of these trends currently in place, robotics and automation manufacturers are beginning to reach out to trade organizations and companies in the service sector as potential new markets in coming years.
For example, in Asia, the Singapore Industrial Automation Association and the Employment and Employability Institute, or “e21,” recently formed a joint project to educate and train service workers in robotics and automation. The new project will host events to share knowledge, provide companies with information and consultations and train workers on how to operate and manage robots and automation technology.
According to e21’s Chief Executive Officer, Gilbert Tan, “automation is widespread in manufacturing and there is much potential for service-related industries to tap on to the benefits of robotics and automation.”
References and related content: