All around the world there is a huge interest in robotics. Schools everywhere and at every level are involved in some type of robotics competition. Some compete in Lego challenges, some compete in government or corporate-sponsored competitions, while others create and host their own challenges. Before I entered college, my father was concerned that the education I chose needed to be sustainable. He studied electronics and had a very successful career in computers. He always said to me, “Computers are the future, you best be prepared for the wave of computers.” I did take his advice, although not in the traditional sense as I decided to study robotics. Fast forward to today when robotics is a hot topic across the globe, from the classroom to the boardroom. Companies and students everywhere are realizing the power of automation and the value that it brings at so many levels. And their timing could not be more impeccable; robotics is definitely mega-trending.
Robotics and Automation Make Economic Sense
The off-shoring of factories and suppler bases due to low-wage competition are on a heavy decline. In an effort to localize supply chains, manufacturers are turning to robotics and implementing automated robotic systems on-site to achieve flexible, smart systems that extend across their enterprise to meet the global demands of their customers and markets. The latest trends in manufacturing are forcing companies to focus on technology. This focus is necessary to remain competitive. This is a global trend, so getting left behind is not an option. Today’s technologies are making manufacturing more fast paced than ever, and this is evident in the staggering wave of robotics coming on-shore.
Robots sharply improve quality as well as productivity to the point where they offset regional differences in labor costs and availability. In today’s economic climate, they have a major impact on the competitiveness of companies and countries alike. This means countries with greater robotic infrastructure (robots and supporting professionals) could become more attractive to manufacturers than countries with cheap labor. These types of changes will drive the competitive dynamics of the global economy.
The Wave of Robotics Adoption
According to the Boston Consulting Group, “The size of this coming wave of robotics is staggering: spending on robots worldwide is expected to jump from just over $15 billion in 2010 to about $67 billion by 2025. Driving this growth is a convergence of falling prices and performance improvements. The cost of high-quality robots and components is dropping rapidly, while CPUs are getting faster, and application programming is getting easier. As robots become cheaper, smaller, and more energy efficient, they gain flexibility and finesse, increasing the breadth of potential applications.” Let’s put these figures in perspective. According to this report, the estimated growth of the robotics market is going to more than double in the next 10 years (From an estimated $26.9B in 2015 to $66.9B in 2025). This puts the adoption rate of robots in the stratosphere.
This wave of robotics adoption is due to several factors, one of which is the pricing. The costs associated with implementing robots and automation have been on the decline. The reduced cost, along with the gains in production, makes for a very attractive proposition to companies of all sizes and industries.
Another key factor of this explosion in robotics is the robots ability to affect different industries. Technology is a key differentiator in all industries and robots have made profound impacts throughout. This contributes to the overall adoption rate across an industry. Adoption of robots within an industry creates a shift in power between competitors, where the leaders pull away and the competition either adopts similar strategies or their growth will stagnate, so the greater the impact, the wider the adoption.
Reasons for This Mega-Trend
Perhaps the most compelling reason for this mega-trend in robotics is the wide variety of applications that robots are being used in. Robots are used in everything from industrial and military applications to handling nuclear fuels to removing dangerous land mines, and filling customer orders. The robots of today are exploring the ocean floor, cleaning your house, and even cutting the grass outside. Robots are irreplaceable when it comes to delicate surgeries and help with the rehabilitation of the patient afterwards. Robots deliver medication, and can be a comforting companion. They can drive cars, fly airplanes, and work a 24 hour shift building cars without a break. Robots can perform many tasks that humans do, at a fraction of the cost, often with more accuracy.
The possibilities for these mega-trends are endless. Emerging applications will further grow the robotics market. Newer industries such as mining and warehousing will be key robotics markets, as well as the personal service domain, where robots will take the roles of housekeeper, security guard, and personal valet. Agriculture and food processing robots are being created to reduce the cost of farming and deliver the freshest product at the lowest cost. Even the automobile will play a major role in the robotics market. Cars that can drive themselves are currently being tested, but driving the car is only the start. Today the car has a key role in households across the globe, and driving people to their destination is only one single aspect of our lives that a robot car can assist us with.
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To see the report The Rise of Robotics by the Boston Consulting Group, visit: