Industrial robots on the rise

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Food, personal care and consumer electronics are the industries with the fastest-growing use of industrial robots, according to IMS Research.

IMS Research says the world market for industrial robots was worth $8.2 billion in 2011, with two thirds of this spent on robots designed for use in applications with a payload of more than 15kg.

However, sales of robots used in the food, beverage and personal care and consumer electronics industries, which are generally designed for smaller payloads, are forecast to be the fastest growing  from 2011 to 2016, growing at an average annual rate 8.6 per cent and 8.0 per cent respectively.  

Kiran Patel, analyst at IMS Research, said: 'The consumer electronics industry is characterised by many labour-intensive assembly processes. Traditionally, work has been carried out by hand in regions of low labour cost, such as China.

In recent years, wages have been rising per year in terms of US dollars (around 14 per cent according to Chinese government statistics); also young people are more likely to enter further education than pursue industrial apprenticeships. Consequently, labour has become more scarce and expensive.'

He added: 'The interest in industrial robots has increased in labour-intensive industries as companies look to automate and cut costs. Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn has announced that it plans to deploy one million industrial robots in its plants in two to three years. Whether or not this does come to fruition is another question, but this certainly points towards the growing application of industrial robots in the industry.'

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