The global automotive robotics market is expected to grow at a CAGR exceeding 11% over the forecast period (2016 - 2024). The industry is expected to surpass USD 16 billion by 2024. Demand for vehicles like cars, trucks, off-road vehicles, busses, and two wheelers is a key factor driving the industry.
The rapidly growing vehicle manufacturing industry could enhance the popularity of automotive robotics. Huge investments in new manufacturing units of emerging markets will augment industrial growth. Moreover, investments in production and in the modernization of vehicle manufacturing will positively influence the market.
Rising research & development (R&D) in technology and focus on enhanced production capacity & sustainability, could fuel the industry in the forecast period. Surging investments in emerging markets will positively impact the industry. The need for absolute precision & reduced production time could contribute to market demand. Precision tasks mainly include packaging and welding. Moreover, shortage of skilled labor may catapult industrial demand till 2024. Greater quality control coupled with increasing wages could augment the demand automotive robotics.
High capital investment is a major challenge facing the global automotive robotics market. Another factor impeding market progress is the uncertain return on investment. The lack of skilled labor for specialized activities such as electrical, embedded, software, and other mechanical tasks could hamper industry growth.
The automotive robotics industry is segregated into applications, products, and regions. Key applications are automated guided vehicles (AGVs), assembling, cutting, dispensing, painting, and welding, among others. Some unique specialty robots are used to find the minutest differences caused during manufacturing and handling activities.
Painting is a complex process. The use of robotics in automotive painting ensures precision and consistency in the course of production. The presence of flowmeters in these machines leads to lesser wastage and even distribution of paint over the surface of vehicles. Technological advancements and R&D investments are directed towards enhancing security, reliability, and productivity, while reducing cost and delivery time. Laser welding, machine loading, material handling, packaging, parts leaning, palletizing, pick & place, polishing, sealing, spraying, and welding are the functions of automotive robots. These applications can augment market demand during the forecast period.
Ford, while manufacturing the Ford Escape employed robotic arms with ‘eyes.’ The camera and laser situated on the robot wrist can spot the exact locations for installing the specific vehicular parts. The machine is used for fixing door panels, fenders, and windshields with immense precision. Robot-to-robot collaboration leads to better quality and enhanced efficiency of the product. This is mostly observed in welding robots and handling robots. Moreover, robotic hands are used extensively in the finishing stages of assembly operations.
BMW employs human-friendly collaborative robots in its final assembly line. These machines are used to attach car doors to the body of the vehicles. They make use of door sealants in order to become sound & water proof. The introduction of these robots ensures enhanced worker safety. There could also be greater value addition if these lead to higher productivity.
Kawasaki Robots are designed to execute transmission, engine & crankshaft handling, and dashboard assembly. It also carries out waterjet cutting for certain soft materials and for carpeting. Furthermore, these robots are ideal for spot, friction spot & arc joining. These are used for welding the bodies of trucks & cars.
The global automotive robotics industry is fragmented on the basis of products, applications, and regions. Based on products, the industry is split into articulated robots, Cartesian robots, selective compliance assembly robot Arm (SCARA), and others like cylindrical robots, parallel robots, etc. Articulated robots will dominate the market and will expand at the highest CAGR from 2016 to 2024.
Use of articulated robots in applications, such as arc welding, de-assembling, cutting & milling, coating, grinding, gluing, spot welding, and handling of metal casting, could propel industry growth.
Geographically, the market is fragmented into five main regions, namely North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East & Africa (MEA). Asia Pacific is anticipated to witness considerable growth because of rapid industrialization and rising manufacturing activities.
Leading global vendors like KUKA AG and the ABB Group are establishing their manufacturing bases in the Asia Pacific region. This is attributed to greater government support in terms of funding and favorable regulations aimed at improving infrastructure. This would further make Asia Pacific a preferred auto-manufacturing hub.
China’s share in the Asia Pacific market is likely to get a major boost during the forecast period. This would be because of government regulations and funds supporting domestic vendors. Owing to high labor costs and inflation, the country has begun employing numerous industrial robots in its industrial sector.
China may have the highest number of operational robots in its manufacturing sector by 2018. This can be credited to the implementation of automation in electronics and automobile industries.
North America will exhibit high growth. This is because of demand for automotive robotics in the U.S. automotive industry.
Europe’s automotive robotics industry could also expect substantial expansion by 2024. The presence of a large pool of automotive industries in the region can foster market growth. Germany will be a prominent regional market contributing to the worldwide demand.
Major players the global automotive robotics market are the ABB Group, KUKA AG, Kawasaki Heavy Industries (Kawasaki Robotics), and FANUC Corporation. These companies engage in research & development (R&D) activities for developing innovative technology. They also partake in business ventures, such as mergers and acquisitions to enhance their market penetration.
In 2015, the ABB Group launched the YuMi Robot. This operates alongside the dual arm industrial robot. Furthermore, the company in 2016, received an order for robots from Valmet Automotive.
KUKA AG is trying to revolutionize the world of robotics by developing mobile robot-based, safe, and sensitive automation. KUKA’s LBR IIWA is developed keeping in view specifications, like autonomous navigation, flexibility, precision, simple operator control, and maneuverability.
FANUC Corp. launched the world’s first portable collaborative robot, the CR-35iA, in early 2016. This robot is equipped to hold objects weighing up to 77 pounds or 35 kilograms.
Research Support Specialist, USA