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Cobot sales will top $11bn by 2030, taking 29% of the market

14 August, 2019

The market for collaborative robot (or cobot) arms will become increasingly mainstream over the next 10 years, with annual sales soaring from $711m in 2019 to reach $11.8bn by 2030, according to a new analysis by ABI Research. If revenues from related products such as end-of-arm tooling (EOAT) accessories and software are included, the cobot ecosystem will mushroom from just over $1bn in 2019, to $24bn by 2030 – a CAGR of 28.6%.

“The prospects for the collaborative robotics market remain strong, despite some very visible inhibitors,” says senior ABI analyst, Rian Whitton. “The hardware innovation is still trailing behind, and most of the value related to cobots does not come from collaboration. It comes through ease-of-use, re-programmability, lower total cost compared to industrial systems, and re-deployability.

“In essence,” he adds, “the value is one of lowering barriers rather than building entirely new use-cases for robots. What is more, cobots still trail industrial systems in speed, performance, and payload, which will have to change if adoption is to continue at this feverish rate.”

Currently, cobots represent a tiny share of the total market for industrial robots. Revenues from cobot arms account for just 5% of industrial robot hardware at present, but that will expand to 29% by 2030, ABI predicts. This growth is not just related to adoption, but also to the increasing convergence between the two groups. Industrial robots will increasingly take on the benefits of collaboration as a result of advances in sensors, machine vision and motion control.

The value of the associated software is predicted to grow from $558m in 2020 to $10.6bn by 2030. Most of this will come from analytics, perception, motion control, and operations-related software.

The Danish cobot pioneer Universal Robots is the clear market-leader with 59% of global cobot shipments in 2018. To date it has sold around 37,000 cobots and has managed to attract business from big car manufacturers and component suppliers such as Lear and Continental for applications such as screw-driving, while also being chosen by smaller companies for pick-and-place and machine-tending applications.

The second-largest cobot supplier is the Taiwanese firm Techman, which has sold about 10,000, followed by Korea’s Doosan with more than 2,000.

Collaborative robots are designed to operate safely alongside human co-workers
Photo: Universal Robots

ABI identifies several “young” cobot suppliers that it says are developing disruptive technologies that will allow them to make a mark in future. One is the UK company Automata which is producing “desk-top” cobots for around £5,000. Another is the Californian firm Productive Robotics which has a “very affordable” seven-axis arm with built-in vision capabilities.

Some end-users, such as the US manufacturer Jabil, are using large numbers of collaborative robots for their effectiveness as re-deployable and flexible assets in fast-changing working environments. Manufacturing is requiring more flexibility through customisation, last-minute orders, and the increasing relevance of high-volume, low-mix automation. Current cobots are not a complete panacea to this problem but, says ABI, they are an important step in the direction of a leaner and more flexible workstation.

“Collaborative systems are not revolutionising the industry, so much as being the catalyst for a leaner and more flexible industrial robotic solution that opens the field up to small and medium manufacturers,” comments Whitton. “As the demands of customisation and high-mix, low-volume manufacturing present managers with new challenges, this technological development will be crucial in transitioning to a more adaptable solution.”

•  Another report on the cobot market, from Future Market Insights, predicts that revenues will grow with a CAGR of around 26% over the period 2019-2029. Cobots with payloads up to 5kg will have a dominant share of the market, and material-handling will be the biggest application. A major user will be the electronics and semiconductors sector.

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