Collaborative robots, also known as cobots, are designed specifically to work with humans in a defined workspace. The combination of humans and robots in a workspace significantly improves performance, when it is shared optimally. The collaboration of robots and humans also allows several automation levels and human intervention. Collaborative robots are utilized for various purposes, including machine tending, assembling, and quality control activities. Moreover, unlike traditional robots that can hurt humans in their proximity, collaborative robots are equipped with sophisticated visual technology and sensors that help them detect and identify human presence.
Fig: Global Sales, Collaborative Robots, 2014–2019
Market Driver: Increasing Adoption in SMEs and Large Enterprises
The rising adoption of collaborative robots in small and medium enterprises is a key market driver. These robots are highly useful in manufacturing hubs to perform intricate tasks, such as assembling, packaging, loading, unloading, sorting, and many others and help companies save labor costs. In November 2019, Invertek Drives, U.K., deployed two collaborative robots in its production line to handle the testing and inspection of continually changing devices in a single production line.
In addition to small and medium enterprises, large companies are also adopting collaborative robots for their functionalities. For instance, Amazon is leveraging collaborative robots to assist its employees in warehouses. Moreover, the demand for collaborative robots is also increasing in the logistics sector. In order to cope with the demand, robot manufacturers are equipping collaborative robots with logistic technologies, which further reduce the technology expenditures and enhance robotic capabilities.
Market Driver: Reduced Cost of Sensors
The significant decline in the cost of sensors owing to the rising penetration of sensor manufacturers also aids the growth of the collaborative robots market. Moreover, technological advancements have led to various developments in the robotic sector. Initially, cobots were highly expensive and had limited functionalities, such as fixed rotation axes or angles. However, modern robots can perform several tasks at lower costs. For instance, the advent of gripper technology, which can imitate the flexibility of the human hand, is driving the adoption of cobots. Such technologies are employed in extremely difficult industrial operations, including production and manufacturing.
Market Restraint: Susceptibility to Security Threats
Collaborative robots are extremely susceptible to security threats. Power disruptions and malfunctioning can result in severe injuries and loss of life. However, this can be surmounted by equipping superior quality security systems. Furthermore, the hand guiding of cobots during complex tasks is also an issue that inhibits market penetration. These robots perform in accordance with the commands from controller units. The absence of commands for a long time may lead to incorrect operation, which can subsequently damage products.
Market Opportunity: Incorporation of AI and Edge Computing
One of the key opportunities for the market is the incorporation of artificial intelligence with collaborative robots. Artificial intelligence assists in enhancing data collection in unstructured environments. It also helps with flexibility improvements and aids in performing new operations. Moreover, technological advancements in edge computing have also made the operation of cobots easier and more flexible. With edge computing, programming is not required for installation, which decreases integration costs.
Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Collaborative Robots Market
The novel coronavirus outbreak has forced medical workers to exploit various advanced technologies, including telemedicine, robotics, and others. In India, cobots are serving food and medicine to COVID-19 positive patients without human interventions. Moreover, China is facing a shortage of workers in factories, and companies are planning to deploy cobots instead of human labor. Therefore, these developments are expected to provide opportunities for the collaborative robots market to grow.
Segmentation by Payload
The up to 5 kg Segment is Expected to Hold Lion’s Share of the Market on account of the Flexibility and Light Weight of Low Payload Cobots
Cobots with a payload of up to 5 Kg are expected to account for the largest value share in the market on the basis of payload. Their flexibility, light-weight, and the ability to improve operations such as picking, packing, and testing drive adoption among industries. Furthermore, low payload cobots are cost-efficient and require less space compared to higher payload cobots. For instance, the cobot manufactured by DENSO is designed with fewer sensors, which makes it light-weight and relatively more affordable.
Segmentation by Application
Handling Segment Dominates the Market Due to the Rising Popularity of Cobots for Handling Operations in F&B and Manufacturing Industries
Among these, the handling segment dominates the market by application. Handling is a common and repetitive task in many industries, and human beings’ margin for error and the possibility of contamination drive the adoption of cobots in several industries, particularly food and beverage and manufacturing. In manufacturing facilities, cobots being deployed to automate the machine tending process without supervision. Cobot manufacturers, such as F&P Robotics and KUKA, are offering grippers with their robots to cater to the rising demand for robots in handling operations.
Segmentation by End-Use Industry
Automotive Industry is Pegged as the Largest Value Shareholder, with Increasing Adoption among OEMs Driving the Segment’s Growth
Among these, the automotive industry is a key-value shareholder in the market, as cobots are leveraged by both car manufacturers and OEMs. Nowadays, customers are demanding customizations, and hence, manufacturers are modifying the production line accordingly. The rising customer demand for vehicles also helps the cobot market to grow in the automotive industry.
Market Overview by Region
For the purpose of estimation and forecasting, we have studied the market as five key regions, namely North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, South America, and the Middle East and Africa. As per our analysis, Asia-Pacific, followed by North America, is the largest value shareholder by region in the collaborative robots market. The figure below depicts the share of each region in the cobots market as of 2018.
Asia-Pacific Holds the Largest Share of the Pie among All Regions and is Expected to Dominate the Market Throughout the Forecast Period
Asia-Pacific dominates the collaborative robots market at present and is expected to remain the largest value shareholder throughout the forecast period. Some of the key factors contributing to the region’s growth are briefly discussed below.
Bajaj Auto, an Indian automotive manufacturer, employs more than 100 cobots in their assembly line.
In March 2020, Universal Robots introduced UR+ application kits to streamline the cobot deployment, which eliminates the obstacles to industrial automation of SMEs
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)