(BofA) Stock price – Augmenting the Human Worker with Cobots
Most industrial experts agree that robotics will be essential to adapt to changes brought upon by automation of manufacturing, labor shortages in warehouses, hazardous environments, and the shift to Electric Vehicles (EVs). There are also geopolitical drivers for robotics including cybersecurity, climate change, and demographics. However, there is little or no talk about cobots. What is that you ask? Please read on.
We provide background insights, applications, and market analysis of cobots in this article. They may be the start of an important megatrend within the next five years.
A collaborative robot, or cobot, is a type of robot intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace, be that an office or the factory floor. Collaborative robots are experiencing rapid market growth in this sector of the robotics industry. The primary driving force behind this growth is a consistently decreasing price.
While traditional industrial robots are primarily used for tasks that are impossible or difficult for humans to perform, cobots are mainly used for tasks that can and are performed by human workers. Cobots are often used to replace human workers in mundane, repetitive, tiresome tasks. We provide a list of applications later in this article.
Market Overview: #
The collaborative robots (cobot) market is still in its infancy. (BofA) Global Research estimates the market value is just under $500M currently. However, the bank believes it can grow to at least $1.8B by 2025, as the adoption rate accelerates.
Many collaborative robots are available for under $35K, making them a viable solution in a wide range of applications, inside and outside the factory setting, for big and small companies. For reference, the average sell price of Universal Robots’ cobot is around $35,000, while the Chinese cobot makers tend to be roughly 30% cheaper.
Advances in edge computing have made collaborative robots more flexible and easier than ever to implement. Often, little to no programming is required to install them, reducing integration costs. Increasing flexibility opens a wide range of new tasks and applications that collaborative robots can effectively automate.
In a recent blog post, Ericsson says
“Cobots may be the next big thing for Industry 4.0. But human-robot collaboration requires application-driven QoS to minimize risks during the performance of critical tasks. Network exposure capabilities offered by 5G will allow service providers to ensure a safer cobot environment.”
“This 5G cobot use case potentially addresses a wide range of industries from manufacturing to mining, where the on-demand control of QoS is triggered by the detection of a relevant, specific service request.”
Caveat: Note that the neither the current 5G RAN standard (ITU-T M.2150) nor the operative 5G NR spec (3GPP Release 16) support the ITU-R performance requirements of URLLC (Ultra High Reliability and Ultra Low Latency).
Growth Drivers and Applications: #
Some of the many drivers for the growth of the cobot market are the following:
- Industrial automation spending
- The lower total cost of deployment
- Easier programming
- Easier installation and re-deployment
- No need for factory layout change
- Higher mobility
- Safety around human workers
The continued growth of industrial automation spending will be a big stimulus for the cobot market over the next five years, as per this chart:
(BofA) Global Research” data-image-description=”<p>Implied Incrementat industrial automation spend over the next 5 years.</p> ” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/viodi.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Capex.png?fit=300%2C166&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/viodi.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Capex.png?fit=640%2C354&ssl=1″ loading=”lazy” class=”aligncenter wp-image-19876 jetpack-lazy-image” src=”https://i0.wp.com/viodi.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Capex.png?resize=450%2C249&ssl=1″ alt=”Implied Incrementat industrial automation spend over the next 5 years.” width=”450″ height=”249″ data-recalc-dims=”1″ data-lazy-srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/viodi.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Capex.png?resize=300%2C166&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/viodi.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Capex.png?resize=150%2C83&ssl=1 150w, https://i0.wp.com/viodi.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Capex.png?w=665&ssl=1 665w” data-lazy-sizes=”(max-width: 450px) 100vw, 450px” data-lazy-src=”https://i0.wp.com/viodi.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Capex.png?resize=450%2C249&is-pending-load=1#038;ssl=1″ srcset=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQA(BA)IAAAAAAAP///yH5(BA)EAAA(AAL)AAAAAA(BA)AEAAAIBRAA7″/>
Common applications of cobots include assembly, dispensing, finishing, machine tending, material handling, welding, material handling/removal, quality inspections, and many more.
Some of the key applications of cobots are these:
- Machine tending: Once machining is completed for a workpiece, cobots can remove the finished workpiece inside the machine, pick up an unprocessed material from a nearby location and place it into the machine for the next cycle of machining.
- Assembly: Cobots are used to insert, glue, screw, etc. components into a larger assembled piece. For example, cobots can be used to assemble components of an electronics device or an automobile part.
- Material handling: Cobots can perform loading/unloading, picking & placing, and packaging tasks in the latter stages of production, where products are made ready to be shipped to the next location. For example, cobots are used in distribution centers and warehouses.
- Quality testing: Cobots with a vision system can check to see if the properties of the products being tested fulfill the specifications.
Market Analysis and Forecast: #
The cobot market is characterized by a few key players – mainly Universal Robots and to a lesser extent Fanuc and Techman. Those leaders are followed by fragmentation into dozens of other players.
Some specialize in the manufacturing of cobots, while others manufacture cobots as an addition to, or extension of, their original extensive lineup of traditional industrial robots (e.g., Fanuc, Yaskawa Electric, and ABB).
The ability of cobot OEMs to establish an ecosystem of peripheral equipment (e.g., grippers, vision systems, etc.), will be an important determinant of success, according to (BofA).
(BofA) Global Research says that in 2025, the cobot market will be at least $1.8B, which would represent only about 6% of the global installed base of industrial robots. That leaves plenty of room for strong growth.
Market research firm ABI says that cobots have evolved from being “interesting novelties” to a “key emerging market” in less than 10 years.
ABI says the cobot market will grow to a value of $13 billion by 2027. That is much higher than the (BofA) forecast for 2025!
The biggest markets currently are in the U.S. and the UK, but the APAC region is expected to be the primary engine of sector growth with China soon taking the lead.
(BofA) Stock price – Augmenting the Human Worker with Cobots