“The use of robotics is rapidly gaining momentum in both traditional and new industries,” says Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). More and more companies are recognising the benefits that robotics and automation can bring to their business models. At around three million units, the stock of industrial robots has already reached an all-time high worldwide, with the number of systems increasing by an average of 13% per year between 2015 and 2020.
The IFR has currently identified five trends in robotics and automation:
- Robotic automation is reaching new areas of application: Driven by consumer behaviour, companies sought to meet the increasing demand for personalised products and delivery. To address labour shortages, industries (from hospitality to construction and agriculture) were also looking at automation options that had not done so before.
- The new generations of robots are easier for users to operate: The trend is towards user interfaces that work with simple icons and guided programming, making it possible to control robots in a simplified way.
- Robots and humans are learning: More and more governments, industry associations and companies would recognise the need to invest early in basic training for the next generation of robots and automation systems. The use of robotics has the potential to improve job profiles in production.
- Robots secure production: Trade conflicts and the pandemic led companies to want to move production closer to the customer again. Supply chain problems led many companies to consider “nearshoring” with the help of automation as a solution.
- Robots support digital automation: For 2022 and beyond, the IFR sees a focus on the use of data to drive future manufacturing. Companies could more easily apply a robot’s ability to learn and share tasks through AI in new environments. This would range from construction to food and beverage packaging plants to healthcare labs.
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