Top 6 Robotics Industries That Are Growing in 2021

The popularity of robots is changing continually. In the past year, there has been growth in the number of robots used in certain industries.

Is your industry included?

Are your competitors using more robots?

Or is your industry lagging behind?

Robots have been used in some industries for decades. The automotive industry, for example, has been using industrial robots since they were first introduced in the early 1960s. This industry remains one of the major users of industrial robots.

But, some industries have only recently begun to embrace industrial robotics.

According to a recent report by the Robotic Industries Association, several industries have seen a surge in robotics use in the last year or so.

Which industries are seeing the most robotics growth right now?

Here is the list of the top 6 industries:

1. Life Sciences and Pharmaceutical

In the first place, the pharmaceutical industry has experienced some significant impacts over the past year. Indeed, with 2020 bringing a global pandemic, the industry had to rapidly alter its processes to respond to the emerging and changing health situations. Thus, automation has been one of the major ways that companies in this industry have been able to keep up with the required production and maintain social distancing guidelines.

As a result of these changes, the life sciences and pharmaceutical industry has seen the highest growth in robotics in the past year. There has been a 69% year-on-year growth in new robot orders.

Robotics are convenient in a variety of ways in this industry; from machine tending of testing machines, sorting of specimens, and manufacturing of new medical devices. Whether this growth continues in the industry will probably depend on how the global situation progresses.

2. Food and Consumer Goods

The food industry has been adopting automation steadily over the last several years. This is also true in the consumer goods industry. In fact, both industries increasingly require shorter turnaround times as consumers demand products faster. This is all thanks to the rise in online shopping. Robotics is one reliable way for companies to keep operations flexible.

This past year, the food and consumer goods industry experienced a 56% year-on-year growth in new robot orders.

Robots are applicable in many areas of operation in this industry from manufacturing to packaging and logistics. Common tasks in the food and consumer goods industry include palletizing, labeling, and pick and place. They are also useful in process tasks such as; robotic butchery, machining, and welding.

3. Plastics and Rubber

The plastics and rubber industry is a vital part of modern business. With the increasing demand for packaging and consumer goods, companies operating in this industry have to continuously make changes to keep up. Also, the mounting pressure from consumers and governments to reduce the environmental impact of plastics means that manufacturers in the industry need to keep innovating. If they fail to do so, they may risk their future.

Robotics is an increasingly popular way to add the required flexibility and agility, without spending huge amounts on altering existing automation and other processes.

This past year, the plastics and rubber industry experienced a 51% year-on-year growth in new robot orders.

Robots are used for a variety of different applications within the plastics industry. This includes loading and unloading of mold machines, inspection, assembly, and packing.

4. Automotive

The automotive sector has long been the trailblazer in robotic adoption. The first industrial robot, the Unimate, was deployed in a General Motors manufacturing plant back in 1959. The industry has continued to employ robots. They continued not just for their productivity benefits but for their accuracy and consistency. As cars have become more complex, precision machines, robots have helped automotive manufacturers to grow.

Despite the long history of robotics in the industry, there are still more opportunities for new robot applications. Robot adoption continues to rise as well. This year, the automotive industry experienced a 39% year-on-year growth in new robot orders.

Important robot applications for automotive manufacturers include spot and arc welding, assembly, painting, machining, and internal logistics.

5. Semiconductors, Electronics, and Photonics

In this world of rapidly changing computing and electronics, it is no surprise that the semiconductor and electronics industry is turning to robotics to keep up with demand. A connected industry is photonics, which deals with light-related technologies such as digital cameras and measurement equipment.

The use of robots in these industries is not yet as widespread as with the previously mentioned industries. However, robots are being used more and more to allow manufacturers to respond more quickly to changes in the market and their technology products.

This past year, the semiconductor, electronics, and photonics industry experienced an 11% year-on-year growth in new robot orders.

Useful robotics applications for the electronics industries include assembly of electronics, automated inspections, packing, and soldering.

6. Metals

Like many industries, the metals industry has experienced a significant blow due to the impacts of the 2020 global pandemic. With metal consumption already declining before the Covid-19 virus appeared, companies in the metals industry have had to work hard to find new ways to operate or risk disappearing completely.

Despite this difficulty — or perhaps even because of it — companies in the metals industry have begun to use more robots in their operations.

This past year, the metals industry experienced a 7% year-on-year growth in new robot orders. The rate is clearly smaller than the other industries on this list. Even so, the metals industry is one of the top growth industries for robotics.

Robot applications employed in the metals industry include surface finishing, material preparation, and machining.

If your industry is on this list, it’s worth taking note. Likely, your competitors are already employing robots and you would be wise to consider doing the same.

However, whatever industry you are in, robotics can help you to improve and evolve your operations to respond to changes in the market.

What industry do you operate in? Tell us in the comments below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or in the RoboDK Forum.

Alex Owen-Hill

About Alex Owen-Hill

Alex Owen-Hill is a freelance writer and public speaker who blogs about a large range of topics, including science, presentation skills at CreateClarifyArticulate.com, storytelling and (of course) robotics. He completed a PhD in Telerobotics from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid as part of the PURESAFE project, in collaboration with CERN. As a recovering academic, he maintains a firm foot in the robotics world by blogging about industrial robotics.

View all posts by Alex Owen-Hill

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