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Challengers chip away at UR’s dominance of cobot market

19 November, 2018

The Danish pioneer of collaborative robots, Universal Robots, still dominates the cobot market, but its share is starting to slip – from more than 55% in 2016 to 46% in 2017 – according to a new study by Interact Analysis. It estimates that UR’s market share dipped further in the first nine months of 2018, to around 40%, despite raising its revenues by more than 40%.

Interact says that UR still has “an incredibly strong” hold over the collaborative robot market, however its declining market share is “inevitable” given how quickly the industry is growing and the increasing number of suppliers now competing for business.

The analyst goes on to predict that UR will face “a much more challenging environment” in 2019 and beyond. First, it faces fierce competition from Taiwanese and Chinese suppliers who are offering similar products at lower prices. Second, it now faces competition from almost every major industrial robot supplier, who are now marketing their own cobots. These products are typically more ruggedised and potentially better suited for larger manufacturing users.

The market is still highly fragmented. In 2017, no other cobot vendor had a market share of 10% or higher. There are now more than 30 suppliers offering more than 80 models, and Interact expects their ranking and market shares to change considerably in the future.

As well as bringing increased competition, traditional robot vendors are also introducing a wider range of products. UR focuses on cobots with payloads from 3–10kg, but some of the new entrants have products that handle payloads as small as 0.5kg or as large as 170kg.

Market shares of leading cobot suppliers in 2017: UR still dominates but is facing increasing pressure
Source: Interact Analysis

With so many cobots now operating outside of UR’s payload range, Interact says that “it seems inevitable that it will lose further market share”, unless it broadens its portfolio. Conversely, the opening up of new opportunities for cobots with smaller and larger payloads, and the increased awareness and acceptance that this brings, “will undoubtedly serve to benefit Universal Robots and the wider industry in the long term”, Interact predicts.

The cobot market is still relatively small. Last year it was worth less than $400m and more than 80% of the 30-odd vendors generated revenues of less than $10m. However, many of them are recent arrivals and are still selling in small volumes. Although the sector is set to expand rapidly, it will remain relatively small for the number of suppliers. Interact predicts that it will be worth $2.7bn by 2022. It expects some consolidation, with weaker suppliers exiting the market.

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