Industrial robots are moving into new applications and industries







Industrial robots are moving into new applications and industries

The industrial robot market is entering a new phase of development. Robot publishers are expanding the scope of their offer, targeting new application scenarios by offering machines with increased versatility. Trends include robots with increasingly larger and smaller payloads. Over the next few years, the traditional articulated robot with its mature presence in such important industries as automotive will continue to capture the lion’s share of the market. But growing industries such as food and beverage and pharmaceuticals will mean big expansion for other types of robots.


Articulated robots: shipments expected to exceed 400,000 by 2026, up from 250,000 in 2021


In 2021, articulated robots accounted for over 75% of the total industrial robot market value, estimated at over $11.8 billion. Articulated robots dominate the market due to the many industries they serve and their wide range of applications, such as arc welding, spot welding, painting, and material handling. They also offer a wide range of payload options. Most major articulated robot vendors have a strong focus on the automotive industry, but other key sectors include metals, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverages.


Articulated robots will continue to dominate the market, but other types of robots such as SCARA are growing at a faster rate.



The annual demand for articulated robots has reached more than 200,000 units, the main types being spot welding robots over 200 kg, painting robots, arc welding robots 6-10 kg and handling robots from 80 to 200 kg. And in 2021, the growth rate of the global market for articulated robots > 300 kg was more than 30%. Although articulated robots continue to dominate the market, they experienced a slump between 2019 and 2021 when the automobile collapsed and many articulated robot vendors lost significant market share. That said, there were still over 200,000 articulated robot shipments in 2019 and we expect that number to nearly double to over 400,000 in 2026.


Collaborative robots will represent more than 10% of total industrial robot sales in 2026


Collaborative robots are a relatively recent arrival on the scene and their potential is only beginning to be recognized. Although they have a wide range of applications, in addition to entering industrial environments where more traditional robotics are already mature, new areas and applications are opening up more for cobot solutions, especially in the areas of pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and new energy, and we expect the cobot market to grow at a faster than average rate. The signs are already there: after the slowdown of 2020, the global collaborative robot market rebounded strongly in 2021, when sales accounted for 6.2% of the overall industrial robot market, the share increased by 0.4% year-on-year annual.

By 2026, we estimate that cobot sales will exceed 10% of total industrial robot sales. In the EMEA region, collaborative robot revenues are expected to grow the fastest (with a CAGR of 21.1%) and cobots will account for over 14% of shipments in 2026, a significant increase from the 8.1 share % in 2021. Small models ( 10kg).

Very light payload desktop models will also enter the market. Two key drivers of the collaborative robots market are their relatively lower cost compared to other types of robots and their versatility in use, an important factor for manufacturers who demand flexibility in the face of the need for short and frequently changing products and customization . Many cobot vendors target SMBs who are considering automating their production lines, but feel they cannot justify or afford to invest in large-scale robotic solutions.


Healthy prospects for SCARA, Cartesian and delta robots


The SCARA robot market is also expected to grow at a faster than average rate. SCARA robots have a wider range of applications, involving high-speed, high-precision pick-and-place and assembly functions. They are typically used in smaller scale scenarios in areas such as food processing, chemistry and, most importantly, electronics. As with collaborative robots, small models

To continue the conversation on the industrial robot market, contact Maya Xiao today: [email protected]



About the Author


Maya has an interdisciplinary technical background in vehicle electrification, system automation and robotics. Based in China, she is the lead research analyst for Li-ion batteries and forklifts at Interact Analysis, also covering the industrial and collaborative robot markets.



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Mavis R. Bernier