Industrial robots can be deployed for a wide range of tasks in a growing number of industries. Although the highly automated car manufacturing sector remains the largest area of application for electro-mechanical machines, industrial robots are continuously making their way into other areas such as the food and beverages industry.
Japan, China, the United States, South Korea and Germany are counted among the five leading industrial robot markets worldwide. In emerging manufacturing markets, the growth trend is largely driven by rising wages that make the use of machines appear a viable alternative to human labor. The global robotics market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 7.8 percent from 2013 to 2016. The industry’s revenue is forecast to exceed 37 billion US dollars by 2018. The key players in the market include ABB, KUKA, Fanuc, Kawasaki and the Yaskawa Electric Corporation. With a market share of around 23 percent, Japan-based Yaskawa was ranked as the number one manufacturer of industrial robots in 2011.
It has to be noted that the field of robotics is a part of another industry: the automation market. This industry is comprised of a variety of products and services, including relays, switches, sensors and drives, machine vision and control systems, as well as industry software development and services. Conglomerates like Siemens, Mitsubishi Electric or General Electric are the major vendors of industrial automation and industry software.