Robotics will enable significant change across several industries, with analyst firm IDC predicting it will drive digital transformation by opening new revenue streams and changing the way work is performed.
According to the latest forecasts from IDC, global spending on robotics and related service will reach $135.4 billion in 2019, up from $71 billion in 2015, with Asia Pacific including Japan set to account for the majority of total robotics spending.
"Robotics is one of the core technologies that is enabling significant change in manufacturing through factory of the future initiatives,” explains Dr Jing Bing Zhang, research director, Robotics at IDC Manufacturing Insight.
“While traditionally used in the automotive industry, there is an increasing adoption of robotics in sectors like electronics, retail, healthcare, logistics, agriculture, services, education, and government," he says.
"Such broad-based growth in robotic adoption is being driven by increasing labour costs, shortage of skilled labuor, and an increasing emphasis on repeatable quality in conjunction with a reduction in prices of robotic systems and strategic national initiatives."
Zhang says worldwide robotics spending is dominated by the discrete and process manufacturing industries, which represented 33.2% and 30.2% of total spending in 2015, respectively.
Resource, healthcare, and the transportation industries are the next three largest commercial industries in terms of overall robotics spending. Process manufacturing and healthcare are two of the fastest growing industries, with worldwide spending in each forecast to nearly double by 2019.
From a technology perspective, worldwide spending on robotics systems, which includes consumer, industrial, and service robots, is forecast to grow to nearly $32 billion in 2019, IDC says.
However, services-related spending, which encompasses applications management, education - training, hardware deployment, systems integration, and consulting, will grow to more than $32 billion in 2019, overtaking robotics systems and becoming both the largest and fastest-growing category of spending by the end of the forecast.
Total spending on system hardware (servers and storage) and software (command - control, network infrastructure, and robotics-specific applications) will grow nearly as fast as services spending.
The Asia/Pacific region including Japan accounts for more than 65% of total robotics spending throughout the forecast, IDC says. Robotics spending will nearly double in Asia/Pacific over the 2015-2019 forecast period, making it the fastest growing region followed by the Americas.
Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) is the second largest region with expenditures of $14.6 billion in 2015, followed by the Americas with 2015 spending totals of $9.7 billion.
John Santagate, research manager, Supply Chain at IDC Manufacturing Insights, says robotics as a technology has really reached its tipping point.
"Robotic capabilities continue to expand while increasing investment in robot development is driving competition and helping to bring down the costs associated with robots,” he says.