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ABB Predicts Top US Robotics Trends

ABB Predicts Top US Robotics Trends

ABB Predicts Top US Robotics Trends

Summary ABB Predicts Top US Robotics Trends With annual revenue in the U.S. robotics market expected to grow at 5.62% (CAGR), resulting in a market volume of over $9bn by 2027, John Bubnikovich, ABB US Robotics Division President, is making several predictions on key trends in in robotics automation in the US for 2023 and beyond. ”The impact of U.S. labor shortages is increasingly being felt by many businesses as they struggle to keep pace with customer demands, even with the potential for some softening in the US economy in the short-term,” said Bubnikovich. “This, combined with global political uncertainty, fragile supply chains and rising material costs, in addition to the growing trend of reshoring and nearshoring of operations, means more companies are adopting robotic automation to maximize flexibility, build resilience and adapt more sustainable production processes.” Trend 1: Demand for robots will increase in response to long term labor shortages and surge in re- and nearshoring The impact of labor shortages is clearly felt across a wide range of industries and will continue well beyond 2023 as the effect of aging populations and a reluctance to take on low paid, dull, dirty and dangerous jobs increases. The Congressional Budget Office recently forecast that the size of the U.S. labor force will grow by just 0.2% annually from 2024 to 2031, and by 2030, it is predicted that more than 2.1 million US manufacturing jobs will be unfilled. This will hamper economic growth and present companies with the need to find new ways to plug gaps in workforces. Demand for robots will be particularly strong in countries where companies are planning to re- or near-shore their operations to help improve their supply chain stability in the face of global uncertainty. In a survey of 1,610 companies carried out by ABB Robotics in 2022, 70% of US businesses said they are planning to re- or near-shore their operations, with 62% indicating they would be investing in robotic automation in the next three years. “While much of the mainstream attention has focused on the impact of automation taking jobs, robots will increasingly perform the physically stressful tasks that people are reluctant to perform, helping to moderate industrial and commercial labor shortages,” said Bubnikovich. “The continuing advancements in ease of use and flexible performance of robots, including the development of collaborative models with larger payloads such as ABB’s GoFa and SWIFTI cobots, mean companies can address skills gaps and make better use of their existing workforces. “We will also see robots taking on tasks in new sectors such as food processing and healthcare. For example, ABB robots are in operation at a White Castle frozen hamburger plant in Louisville, Kentucky, where a complete automated packaging system features three different types of robots handling three different functions. And, at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in the Houston, Texas, ABB robots are revolutionizing antibody research by automating the testing process, increasing the number of tests done per day from 15 to 1000. We will see robots taking on more roles in similar settings going forward as labor shortages continue to impact many businesses,” said Bubnikovich. Trend 2: AI and autonomous technology will make robots easier to use, integrate and access–opening up additional opportunities in new industries The recent development of ABB’s Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (Visual SLAM) technology will enhance the productivity, flexibility and speed of ABB’s range of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). Using AI-enabled 3D vision to perform location and mapping functions, Visual SLAM enables AMRs to make intelligent navigation decisions based on their surroundings. Solutions like these enable manufacturers to move away from traditional production lines towards integrated scalable, modular production cells, while optimizing the delivery of components across facilities. Ongoing developments in artificial intelligence are powering autonomous grasping and positioning, which will expand the range of tasks robots can perform. This greater use of AI in robotics helps with tasks like the picking of non-uniform objects, which is on prominent display at a Burrtec Waste Industries material recovery facility in Riverside, California. Here, vision- and AI-enabled ABB delta robots scan materials on waste stream conveyor, picking a variety of contaminants from the line that the robot has learned are not able to be recycled. At the same time, continued simplification of the software and controllers used to program robots will further reduce barriers to adoption by removing the need for specialist expertise. “Over the past few years, the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence in the robotics realm have improved […]

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Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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