February 21, 2022 by Manufacturing AUTOMATION/International Federation of Robotics
International Federation of Robotics (IFR) recently analyzed and shared the top five trends for robotics and automation worldwide for 2022.
“Transformation for robotic automation is picking up speed across traditional and new industries,” says Milton Guerry, president of IFR. “More and more companies are realizing the numerous advantages robotics provides for their businesses.”
According to the association, the operational stock of industrial robots hit a new record of about 3 million units worldwide – increasing by 13 percent on average each year between 2015 to 2020.
1 – Robots adopted by new industries
IFR notes that segments that are relatively new to automation are rapidly adopting robots. Consumer behaviour is driving companies to address the demand for personalization of both products and delivery. The e-commerce revolution was driven by the pandemic and will continue to accelerate in 2022.
In an effort to address labour shortages, companies that have not previously considered automation will reconsider, says IFR. Relatively new robotics customer industries like delivery and logistics, construction, agriculture and many more benefit from technologies advancing by the day.
2 – Robots easier to use
IFR says that the new generation of robots are easier to use. The market trends show movement towards user interfaces that allow simple icon-driven programming and the manual guidance of robots. Robot companies and some third party suppliers are bundling hardware packages together with software for easy implementation.
IFR notes that offerings that focus on complete ecosystems add value by reducing operation time and effort.
With the trend for low-cost robotics also comes easy setup and installation, with specific applications pre-configured in some instances.
Suppliers offer standard programs combined with grippers, sensors, and controllers, says IFR. App stores provide program routines for various applications and support lower-cost robot deployment.
3 – Robots and humans up-skilling
IFR says that governments, industry associations, and companies are recognizing the need basic robot and automation education for the next generation of the workforce.
The journey of data-driven production lines will focus on education and training, says the association. In addition to the training of workers in-house, external education routes can enhance staff learning programs.
Robot manufacturers like ABB, FANUC, KUKA, and YASKAWA all register between 10,000 and 30,000 participants in their robot classes across more than 30 countries every year.
Robotics is changing job profiles of factory workers for the better. New training opportunities with robotics are a win-win strategy for companies and employees alike: Dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks get automated while people learn key skills for the industrial workplace of the future and increase their earning potential throughout their careers.
4 – Robots secure production
Supply-chain issues lead companies to consider nearshoring with automation as a solution, says IFR.
A revealing statistic from the U.S. shows how automation is helping businesses get back to business: According to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), robot orders in the United States in the third quarter of 2021 were up 35 percent over the same period in 2020. More than half of the orders are from non-automotive sectors.
And this record growth isn’t just robotics either—machine vision, motion control, and motors are also seeing big increases.
“The pandemic and the resulting disruptions to supply chains and labor availability appear to have been the push that many needed to justify the investment,” says Dr. Susanne Bieller, general secretary of the IFR. “The companies most likely to invest in automation are those that have been considering it for a while but just hadn’t taken the final step.”
5 – Robots support digital automation
In 2022 and beyond, IFR says that there will be an emphasis on data as key enablers of future manufacturing. Data collected from intelligently automated processes will be analyzed by producers to make more informed decisions. With a robot’s ability to share tasks and learn through AI, companies can also adopt intelligent automation more easily in new environments.
AI for robotics is maturing and learning robots are becoming mainstream. The industry is past the pilot phase, and we can expect to see a larger deployment of these technologies in 2022.