Robot Use in Manufacturing Expected to Rise Through 2025

Robot Use in Manufacturing Expected to Rise

With automation costs continuing to decline, experts are predicting the use of robots in manufacturing and industrial settings – particularly in the automotive industry – will continue as a trend through 2025, according to a study released this year.

In fact, that shift could grow at a pace of 10 percent a year. The study by the Boston Consulting Group also predicted that by 2025, 23 percent of factory jobs will be automated – up from the current rate of 10 percent. Driving the trend is the cost savings, and in some cases, a wave of new robots that are more agile and adaptable to various environments.

Increase in Cost Savings

After the initial investment, robots can perform a routine task at about $4 an hour compared to $24 an hour for an employee. When companies are able to realize a cost savings of at least 15 percent as a result of switching to robots, they are more likely to make that transition, according to BCG.

However, this trend does not necessarily equate to an overall decline in the number of jobs, according to a Manufacturing Barometersurvey by PricewaterhouseCoopers. About 77 percent of U.S. manufacturing companies reported with the transition to robotic technology, there will be an increased demand for employees with expertise in engineering, maintenance of the machines, and research and development. As a result, there will be a need for employees to have more training and expertise.

Robot Technology May Lead to More Competition

The use of robot technology, which has been declining in price while becoming more advanced, also is enabling smaller manufacturing companies to compete with larger companies – both here and abroad, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. That shift could signal the ability of US-based companies to regain some of the work that has been outsourced to companies overseas.

The automotive industry is leading the way with robotic technology. Of the robot orders made in 2014:

  • 35 percent went to the automotive parts industry
  • 29 percent for automotive
  • 9 percent for metals
  • 6 percent for food/consumer goods
  • 4 percent to semiconductors/electronics/photonics
  • 4 percent to life sciences/pharma/biomed
  • 2 percent to plastics/rubber

Assessing the Cost Benefits

Could your company gain efficiencies or cost savings from extending your use of robotic technology? Here are 5 questions that could help your team make that decision.

  1. Have you recently conducted an overall audit of all manufacturing processes?
  2. Have you rated the efficiency of various processes?
  3. Have you performed a cost-benefit analysis of robot technology?
  4. Are there any processes that put your employees at high risk for injury? If so, can those functions be replaced by robots?
  5. Is your company equipped to train current employees or hire the resources needed to maintain robot-operated processes?

By analyzing the answers to these questions, you should be able to determine if your company could gain a competitive advantage or realize cost savings by using robot technology to handle specific tasks.