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Cobot sales set to surge as ROIs come down to 2-3 years

19 April, 2022

Sales of collaborative robots (cobots) will grow by 20–30% a year in the period to 2025/2026 – faster than previously predicted – according to new projections by Interact Analysis. It also reports that the average ROI (return on investment) on cobots has come down from five years to just two to three.

According to Maya Xiao, a senior analyst with Interact based in China, there are several reasons for the accelerated take-up. For a start, although the Covid pandemic resulted in the cobot market shrinking during 2020, there was a sharp recovery in 2021 as the pandemic encouraged more companies to adopt automation to tackle virus-related disruption. Another driving factor has been worldwide labour shortages, even in emerging economies such as China and Mexico.

The growing number of real-world applications has played a part too. When one company invests successfully in cobots, its competitors often follow suit.

Cobots are also being used as a form of future-proofing against possible resurgences of the virus. In this respect, says Xiao, Covid is not just a short-term driver. It is a medium- and even long-term one as well.

One factor that sets cobots apart from industrial robots, is that they have broken out of manufacturing and into the wider service sector. For this reason, Interact predicts, the cobot market will become more closely related to the performance of the wider macro economy.

In a blog, Xiao points out that the market is now well-educated about cobots. “Three years ago that wasn’t the case, but cobot companies have very successfully changed this,” she writes. “It’s similar to the conversation surrounding electric vehicles, where people are no longer asking: ‘Should I buy an EV?’ They’re asking: ‘Which EV should I buy?’”

Cobots are being used to augment the output of workers, rather than to replace them, Interact argues
Image: Robert Bosch

Cobots are increasingly penetrating the food and beverage sector because they are well suited to applications such as pick-and-place and packaging. Their ability to handle larger payloads is also making them attractive for warehousing and logistics, while semiconductor manufacturing is another strong growth area. And cobots are increasingly being used in service sectors such as hotels and hospitals, in innovative applications such as taking patients’ temperatures.

Xiao argues that cobots are not taking jobs, but are filling gaps in the labour market. Cobots, she adds, normally cannot operate without human workers and are being used to augment the output of existing workers, rather than to replace them.

Interact Analysis:  Twitter  LinkedIn

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