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ABI Research Sees Cobots Market at $600M in 2021

June 09, 2021

Collaborative robots continue to attract attention and investment as an affordable form of automation

Despite the challenges facing the wider manufacturing industry during the coronavirus pandemic, collaborative robots continue to attract attention and investment, due to their ease of use, redeployability, and convenience to end-users who struggle to afford more traditional forms of automation. According to a new report from ABI Research, the cobot market is set to grow substantially over the coming decade. The market had a global valuation of US$475 million in 2020, which will expand to US$600 million in 2021 and US$8 billion in 2030, with a projected CAGR of 32.5%.

“The most direct benefit of cobots is not in their ability to collaborate with humans”, said Rian Whitton, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “Rather, it is in their relative ease of use, improved interface, and the ability of end-users to redeploy them for different tasks”. This has made cobots popular with small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) which value flexibility and incremental automation where the maintenance cost is not prohibitive.

Universal Robots is currently the dominant player in the market, with 50% of the total shipments and posting US$219 revenue for 2020, but challengers like FANUC, ABB, and others are beginning to catch up after initially lagging in the space. They have done this by improving user interface and the usability of their systems

“The barriers between cobots and standard industrial robots are beginning to breakdown, as many vendors are experimenting with dual-mode robots that can have a cobot and industrial mode. What is more, cobots are beginning to develop heavier payloads, in line with evolving regulations” said Whitton. ABI Research projects that cobots are going to significantly expand the potential for automation for SMEs, while also enabling large vendors to develop a more flexible production line based on movable platforms and no need for fencing. The major industrial automation vendors will enjoy a greater share of the market as they utilize their existing partnerships and pour more resources into new cobot products.

While Yaskawa Motoman is addressing the uptick in collaborative robot automation for a wide range of industries with extremely safe, robust and easy-to-use cobots, like the HC10XP and HC20XP, the company’s outlook on the ease-of-use factor takes a broader approach, combining simple to use tools and efficient programming methods with intelligent capability. “Inevitably, less experienced robot users will hit a wall with issues such as complying to an ever-growing list of safety standards, reducing cycle times, accommodating operator interactions, adding extra robots or implementing coordinated motion,” said Chetan Kapoor, Business Leader of Innovation and Development for the company. “Traditionally, taking on this type of complexity would have been impossible for many manufacturers wanting to move forward on their own, but Yaskawa’s Smart Series product line now bridges the gap between staff skills and application needs, offering no compromise between ease of use and capability where applications such as basic inspection, machine tending, assembly and palletizing are concerned.” A large piece to solving the complexity puzzle is the Yaskawa Smart Pendant that provides patented built-in Smart Frame technology that adapts to the user’s position for easy control of the robot movement. This, combined with powerful controller functionality that simply integrates peripherals through extension apps, will help sustain projected market growth.

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