Automation Increasing by Leaps and Bounds

Robot sales are zooming. At the beginning of the 21st century, the market for robots looked pretty good, but actual sales fluctuated. In the past five years, that has changed. Sales of robots have increased significantly every year. At this point, experts are estimating that 1.7 million new robots will be put into service by 2020.

About 40% of robot sales are in the automotive industry. These sales aren’t showing enormous gains — in fact, there was a slight drop in 2017. Electronics has reached about 20% of total robot sales. This has been a growth industry for automation for some years now.

The surprises — and a lot of the movement in sales figures — are coming from the increasing use of automation in other areas. Sales of robots in food and consumer goods industries, for example, rose more than 44 percent last year in terms of units sold.

Top growth for 2017 was in plastics and rubber, which increased by 59.6%, and in metals, up 53.9%.

This shows that automation is increasing across a wide variety of industries. More industries are embracing automation and more companies are taking the plunge.

Why is automation increasing?

There’s an element of peer pressure. Companies across the board are realizing that automation will help them keep up with their competitors.

But there are other factors.

Tariffs, reshoring, and the fear of tariffs are causing more companies to make that up-front investment in automation. A rising minimum wage is making automation less costly in comparison to human workers. As robots become more affordable and human workers become less affordable, automation obviously becomes more appealing.

And in some industries, including horticulture, it’s getting harder to find skilled workers. Machines aren’t better or cheaper, one nursery company representative explained, but they’re available. Automation isn’t a choice in cases like this — it’s a necessity.

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