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Robot-makers turn to materials handing

01 June, 2006

Robot-makers turn to materials handing

The booming packaging industry could provide a new growth market for robot-makers suffering from a slump in demand from their traditional automotive market. A new report from Frost & Sullivan suggests that consumer packaging applications represent an "immense potential for robotics," especially as these applications usually require flexibility to deal with changing product types and volumes.

In a report analysing the European market for robotics in materials-handling applications, F&S predicts that this market will swell from $762m in 2004, to $1.28bn by 2012.

"The automotive sector has traditionally been the biggest user of flexible automation in manufacturing, and hence most robot manufacturers have a presence in this sector," explains F&S research analyst, Kashyap Chandrasekar. "But intense competition and price pressures from OEMs and the slump in demand are making a niche automotive approach highly unfavourable."

He predicts that increasing numbers of robotics manufacturers will look to the food and beverage, and life sciences sectors for growth opportunities. Their success in the materials-handling market will depend on their ability to offer reliable and inexpensive robotic systems suitable for smaller businesses.

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