A new report, published by ABI Research in February 2018, identifies collaborative robots as the fastest growing branch of the robotics industry.
Jurgen Von Hollen, the president of Universal Robots concurs. In an interview with Robotics Business Review, he states that when he was just starting out in early 2016, the concept of robot scaling was new, virtually nonexistent. Many did not know what collaborative robots, or cobots were, leave alone the value they added. However, the situation is different in 2018, small and medium-sized companies are now recognizing the value of cobots.
For one, SMEs now recognize that the size of a company does not matter; though a company may be small, its size does not disqualify it from reaping the benefits of a cobot.
Let us for a moment consider a company that has 20 employees. Of these 20 employees, 10 of them spend the day doing manual repetitive work like packaging or assembling. That means with the existing headcount, the company can only do so much in a day.
If this same company purchases one or more collaborative robots, then the 10 employees are relieved and absorbed somewhere else in the company, for instance, marketing or sales. Therefore, with the same headcount, the company is able to achieve more productivity per any given day.
Second, is the affordability aspect. For the first time in a long while, SMEs are now able to invest in collaborative robots without crippling their finances. The industry average price of one collaborative robot is $24,000. This price is incomparable to initial industrial robots that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Tying into affordability is the Return on Investment aspect. Depending on the size of an SME, $24,000 might still take a while to accumulate especially for an investment where the ROI time is unknown. The ROI has ceased to be an issue because according to research and observation by those in the industry, the Return on Investment can take as little as 6 months. Some companies have reported a 1-year Return On Investment. SMEs can longer ignore such statistics.
Third, is the sheer amount of benefits collaborative robots inject into a business. Before collaborative robots became mainstream, their benefits were still unknown and untested. Now, SMEs have practically witnessed businesses benefiting from the easy the programming, and fast set up. Flexibility, safety, and increased productivity are also benefits enjoyed by companies that have already integrated a collaborative robot system.
Finally, is the collaborative aspect. One of the reasons collaborative robots took a while to make their mark in the market was the fear that robots were going to take over jobs. A while ago, every blog post and every headline warned people of the threat of robots to their jobs. That kind of talk resulted in a lot of initial rejection.
However, SMEs now know that collaborative robots are meant to work in conjunction with the human workforce. Take over the repetitive work and allow the human workers to be more productive in other departments or sectors.
Now that SMEs are finally paying attention and have recognized the value of collaborative robots, the industry is set to experience a major shift not only in 2018 but in the coming years.
A report published by the government stated that SMEs make up 93% of Australia’s domestic company landscape. This figure is replicated in New Zealand, Singapore and many other key markets across the globe. Actually, according to the World Bank, SMEs represent over 95% of companies in the European Union.
Those in the industry are thus excited because the adoption of collaborative robots by SMEs means that over 90% of companies in key markets will start demanding collaborative robots. That kind of demand translates to massive growth in the cobot industry.
In the same interview by Robotics Business Review, Von Hollen says he believes Universal Robots can increase its growth rate especially due the expected industry growth.