If you look at the use of robots today, what would the market penetration look like in India and globally?
India is one of the strongest growing economies among the Asian emerging markets. In 2017, with a record of 3,412 new units installed, it ranked 14th in the global annual supply, following Thailand and Spain. In terms of operational stock, it ranked 13th, following Canada, Spain and Singapore. Between 2012 and 2017, India saw a compound annual sales growth rate (CAGR) of 18%.
The country’s automation potential is illustrated by a rather low robot density figure. 85 industrial robots per 10,000 employees in the automotive industry – the main customer industry – is less than a fourth of Indonesia’s density of 378 units and far away from China’s 505 units. The automotive industry will remain the main driver of the increasing robot installations in India. Numerous new projects are announced by the international and domestic car manufacturers aiming to expand production capacities. Moreover, OEMs increasingly require local supply of automotive parts.
What is the greatest challenge facing the global robotics industry today?
The global robotics industry is currently facing a transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles in its largest customer market, the automotive industry. This is linked to a current slowdown in investments. Moreover, its second largest market, the 3C industry, is facing declining smartphone sales. Political headwinds also result in restraints to investments.
What do you think about robot malfunctions in a factory? How frequent are the incidences and what are the possible reasons?
There are usually no separate statistics on incidents with robots in factories. In general, thanks to high safety precautions, the rate of incidents naturally is low. Accidents are usually caused by human errors, often overruling safety measures.
Can a robot self-diagnose a malfunction and avoid causing any damage? What role can the human play here?
For stable operation, sensors will be the key factor to control quality of manufacturing and maintain the machine running without any unpredictable failures. Additionally, AI is the great accelerator to enhance the capability of sensors and analysis of data, where humans are needed to train those systems.
The robotics industry has undergone a huge change in terms of technology and applications. Can you highlight the latest trends?
The three biggest trends in the robotics industry are:
Collaboration: Humans and robots in shared workplaces without fences open up new possibilities and concepts in production and non-industrial areas
Simplification: Simplification will be critical to SMEs, but also important for large global manufacturers
Digitalisation: Big Data is allowing people to make better decisions about factory operations
Do you think the increasing use of robots will affect human jobs? If all the repetitive tasks become automated, what happens to the low-end jobs?
The use of robots will create more and better-paid jobs. They will improve the quality of work and give workers more autonomy and job satisfaction, while also making jobs safer. Of course, we have to contribute to pave the way for the transition. Companies and governments must collaborate to ensure workers have the skills that are in demand. Currently, the lack of qualified employees is holding back the necessary growth.