Inside Logistics

Collaborative robots set to ease labour shortage

Material handling, assembly and pick and place will be the top three applications


December 6, 2019
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London, UK – Cobots will account for almost a third of the total robotics market by 2027, with material handling, assembly and pick and place the top three applications, according to a new report.

In 2018, global revenues from cobot production exceeded US$550 million. This was almost a 60 percent increase over 2017; and over 19,000 cobots were shipped. Interact Analysis forecasts that revenues for cobots will reach $5.6 billion in 2027, and that under five kilogram and five to nine kilo cobots, popular in small to medium-sized industrial settings, will represent the majority of sales in 2023.

The report, The Collaborative Robot Market – 2019, was published by market intelligence firm Interact Analysis.

Material handling, assembly and pick and place will be the three biggest applications of collaborative robots. But these functions, which accounted for 75 percent of cobot revenues in 2018, will drop to below of 70 percent total revenues by 2023, as other functions for cobots are developed.

The use of cobots in non-industrial applications will play a significant role in the coming years – in sectors such as life sciences, logistics, and the hospitality sector. In part this is because they are flexible and easy to set up, making them attractive to smaller companies which may not have previously considered using robots.

Labour shortages and the drive to improve efficiency mean that China will be the fastest growing region for cobot shipments. The demand for simple, cost-effective, entry-level robots, together with different regulations surrounding industrial equipment in China has fuelled the growth of Chinese cobot manufacturers who only supply their local market. This has arguably distorted the market figures.

Interact Analysis has responded to this by including in its report two data sets, one with and one without the impact of China. It is important to note, however, that growth outside of China is still forecast to rise at a CAGR of over 30 percent in the next five years.

Maya Xiao, lead analyst on cobots for Interact Analysis, says: “The collaborative robot market is still relatively immature, but Interact Analysis has identified clear potential growth areas, both in industrial and non-industrial settings, enabling manufacturers to respond effectively, and take full advantage of what we predict to be an area which will occupy a significant market share in the coming years”.