Robotics penetration is on the rise globally. Uses for industrial robotics are many, but robotic arms, in particular, are proving extremely valuable for the manufacturing and packaging industries.
According to a report from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) in 2016, 2019 would see an “industrial robotics boom,” with China having the strongest growth drivers for the robotics industry.
Indeed, China remains the largest market for robotics.
The 2019 preliminary statistics of the World Robotics Report shows that a new record high of 384,000 units were shipped globally in 2018 – an increase of one percent compared to the previous year. This means that the annual sales volume of industrial robots increased for the sixth time in a row (2013-2018).
According to a new business intelligence report released by HTF MI entitled “Global Packaging Robots Market Research Report 2012-2024,” the packaging robot market is set to continue to experience phenomenal growth in coming years.
The recent influx of new players in the world of robotics means that for manufacturers, there is a much wider range of choice at varying price points; before, there was a limited number of robots to choose from, most of which were very expensive.
Here are 5 industrial robotics manufacturers to watch:
Founded in 1956 by Dr Seiumon Inaba, Fanuc is at the forefront of the worldwide manufacturing revolution.
In fact, Inaba pioneered the first numerical control—the automated control of machining tools and 3D printers by means of a computer.
The specialist factory automation company is believed to be the largest industrial robot manufacturer in the world, in terms of the number of robotic arms installed in factories worldwide.
FANUC City is situated at the foot of Mount Fuji, near Lake Yamanaka. Covering 1.7 million square metres, it is home to all of FANUC’s unique production facilities, which includes 12 research and development centres.
The company has 263 locations and operates in 108 countries.
Fanuc’s immense success owes a lot to its relationship with General Motors and has more recently been breaking into China, currently the world’s largest buyer of industrial robots, by expanding its manufacturing facilities into the country.
The company reports that it has installed more than 24,500,000 products worldwide and is currently expanding its product range to include new types of robots with a particular focus on artificial intelligence.
ABB is a Swiss-Swedish multinational corporation headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, operating mainly in robotics, power, heavy electrical equipment and automation. It is ranked 341st in the 2018 Fortune Global 500 list and has been a global Fortune 500 company for the past 24 years.
ABB’s key markets include automotive, plastics, metal fabrication, foundry, solar, consumer electronics, wood, machine tools, pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries.
The company has more than 4,600 employees operating in 53 countries around the world.
Over 300,000 ABB robots have been installed worldwide.
Notably, ABB introduced the first paint robot in 1969 and the first commercially available, micro-processor controlled, electric robot in 1974.
The company stands out for its IoT (internet of things) solution, Ability—ABB’s network for connecting its robots and other equipment to enable precise monitoring and control.
The company recently expanded its Yumi robot collection of highly agile robotic arms.
Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Miamisburg, Ohio, Yakasawa Motoman is a manufacturer of high-quality industrial robots and fully-integrated robotic automation systems.
With more than 400,000 Motoman industrial robots, 15 million servos and 26 million inverter drives installed globally, Yaskawa provides automation products and solutions for practically every industry and robotic application, including arc welding, assembly, coating, dispensing, material handling, material cutting, material removal, packaging, palletising and spot welding.
Their product line includes more than 150 distinct industrial arm, delta and SCARA robot models, plus a full line of pre-engineered “World” solutions that are complete application-specific robotic systems that include robot, process and safety equipment.
Interestingly, Yaskawa is the company which coined the phrase “mechatronics.”
Kawasaki is a company best known for its production of motorbikes, but it is also one of the biggest manufacturers of robotics equipment in the world.
Born out of Japan, the company now has subsidiaries in the UK and Germany.
Kawasaki’s stand out product is its new collaborative robot, the Dual-Arm SCARA Robot “duAro,” of which it has had great success selling in China.
With its two co-axial arms, duAro can fit into a single-person space and provides a wide collaborative working range.
Direct teaching with dedicated tablet software enables non-skilled operators to teach and operate the robot intuitively.
The robot can do a huge range of things, including machine tending of auto parts, assembly of printed circuit boards and automated labelling. It can even pack lunchboxes, make coffee and spread sauce on pizza dough.
KUKA is a Chinese-owned manufacturer of industrial robots and solutions for factory automation and headquartered in Augsburg, Germany.
The company was acquired by Midea Group—one of the world’s largest manufacturer of household appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers—in 2016, positioning it to make the most of the growing market for robots in China and Asia.
At the time of the acquisition, Paul Fang, chairman and CEO of Midea, commented: “Rising labour costs and an ageing population not only in China but globally offer vast opportunities for Midea and KUKA to improve factory automation in many countries and strengthen Midea’s future manufacturing capabilities.”
KUKA’s industrial robots are used in many application areas, such as material handling, loading, and unloading of machines, palletising and depalletising, spot and arc welding. They are used in some large companies, predominantly in the automotive industry but also in other sectors such as the aerospace industry.