Unsurprisingly, more robots than ever were shipped around the world in 2017, according to a new report. Even more unsurprisingly, this wasn’t to create some sort of robot army, but to assist manufacturing processes across the globe.
The new World Robotics Report released yesterday by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), reported that the sales of industrial robots has increased 114% over just the last five years.
85 robot units per 10,000 employees is the new average of global robot density in the manufacturing industries across the world according to IFR: Europe is above average with 106 units, the Americas stand at 91, and in Asia 75 units is the norm.
This comes after the World Economic Forum (WEF) forecast that by 2022, robotics and AI could create over 130 million jobs, this almost double the figure they are projected to displace.
Of course the type of robotics is also something important to consider; humanoid, stationary, aerial and underwater robots. This, The Manufacturer previously analysed.
By 2021, global sales of robotics are projected to increase by 14% per year on average. At present, Japan create the highest number of robots produced, and Europe has the highest robot density, according to IFR.
But, which manufacturing sectors are using robotics?
The automotive industry remains the largest user of robots globally, with a reported share of 33% of the total supply in 2017.
The manufacturing of cars has become increasingly complex over the past decade, with a substantial portion of the production processes in the automotive industry now requiring automation solutions.
Hybrid and electric cars are also experiencing stronger demand. The challenge of meeting 2030 climate targets will too mean that a larger proportion of new cars will be low and zero-emission vehicles.
The electronics industry has been utilising robotics, and has accounted for a share of 32% of the total supply in 2017 – just 1% below that of the automotive.
The rising demand for electronic products and the increasing need for batteries, chips, control systems and displays were – according to IFR – driving factors.
Robots can handle very small parts at high speeds, with very high degrees of precision, this could enable electronics manufacturers to ensure quality and optimise production costs.
The metal industry (including industrial machinery, metal products and basic metals industries) is rising.
Analysts estimate an overall growth in demand in 2018 for metals, with ongoing calls for the cobalt and lithium used in electric car batteries.
Large metal and metal product companies are implementing 4IR automation strategies, including robotics, to be able to respond quickly to changes in demand.
Automation is also abundant and pushing many other industries forward.
Automation in… gin?
Cheshire-based distiller, G&J Distillers has implemented world-leading liquid filling machines, which optimise their production.
The pair of advanced liquid-filling machines from US company Hartness, are the only two examples of this type in the world. The machines run 24 hours a day, five days a week and can fill up to 400 bottles a minute.
“We have basically become the experts in these pieces of equipment, and have been world-leaders for 10 years – only now are others looking at quicker changeovers when they are putting new equipment in, but we have been well ahead of that curve,” Kris Dickenson, group integration director, told TM during a previous visit.
Agricultural robots, or ‘agribots’, are gradually being deployed across the world to assist farmers and improve productivity. The result is a much more precise and smart operation.
It is not secret that the pressures facing farmers add up to a strong case for investing in automation, but often they can’t afford the price tag.
Find out how this could be solved with servitization:
Sub-zero temperatures at a bakery manufacturer?
Imagine working 16-hour days in -30°C. It would be demanding to say the least, but that’s exactly what a one-year-old KUKA robot, nicknamed ‘Cookie’ does, stacking pallets of cookie dough (destined for a US ice-cream maker) in the freezer at Aberdeen-based bakery manufacturer, Macphie Ltd.
In introducing this, the workforce has been upskilled, autonomous maintenance is put into practise, there is improved safety and output has increased.