Cobots are expected to become an integral part of digitization

Those that have chosen to invest in cobots during the pandemic are poised to realise a long-term benefit

CIOL Bureau
New Update

The robotics industry has enjoyed accelerated growth over the past couple of years. Globally, the robotics market size was valued at $103.95 billion in 2019 and is projected to nearly double to $209 billion by 2025.  In India, the robotics market has gained momentum as a result of large-scale industrial expansion and adoption of automation. In terms of annual installation, the industrial robotics market in India stood at 5,000 units in 2019 and is estimated to reach 11,760 units by 2025.


Cobots plug resource gaps during COVID-19

With consumers staying at home and ordering online during the pandemic, demand for warehouse workers skyrocketed. Unfortunately, those positions often went unfilled, and even facilities that hired pickers had to ensure safety and social distancing. This is where robots, and specifically cobots (robots that collaborate with people) started to prove extremely valuable. They were able to take some of the mundane tasks load off human workers to help drive productivity and meet customer demand. They also helped to offset labour losses by running picked items over to packers and automating processes that allowed workers to stay focused on getting orders out the door. In fact, the impact of robotics automation has been so impressive that other sectors have also started to embrace this technology on a greater scale.

In Assam, robots are delivering medicines and essential services to COVID-19 patients at a hospital. They are remote-controlled to deliver food, medicines and other essential services to patients who are being quarantined for COVID-19 or other extremely contagious diseases in the isolation chambers at the quarantine facilities.


Meanwhile, retailers are deploying inventory counting robots so their store associates can stay focused on replenishment, merchandising and sales. Without a doubt, the adoption of robotics has accelerated across the board.

Evolving motivations for Cobots

Although much of the technology has been around for some time, improvements in sensors, software, collision avoidance and navigation technology have created believers.


The threat of COVID-19 to people and industries has also broken down many objections, and cobots have become a much more attractive option for those looking for ways to improve workflows without causing further disruption. Indeed, many robotics specialists who previously expressed fears over safety, privacy and job losses have been surprised at just how quickly this long-standing resistance has disappeared in the face of new fears around COVID-19.

The short-term goals have been to:

1. Use disinfecting robots to help keep consumers and patients safe from cross-contamination. 


2. Provide for social distancing by using smart robots to take on simpler tasks and allow workers to spread out more. 

3. Maintain business operations in the face of staff shortages.

Navigating the way through the pandemic has clearly been the immediate priority for many businesses. And those that have chosen to invest in robotics automation solutions during this time are poised to realise a long-term benefit that is unlikely to disappear once the pandemic is over. They will retain operational advantages, such as increased productivity, while gaining the flexibility to scale as needed to expand capacity and meet growing customer demands at a lower operating cost point.


Plus, with robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) on the rise, any risk around capital expenditure is reduced. Companies can see exactly how cobots will work in their businesses and the potential return on investment (ROI). If partnered with the right solution provider, it will also be easy to scale the solution to support new workflow modelling and process execution frameworks, all of which can further enhance the ROI. Plus, RaaS helps to alleviate any fears that the technology that companies are investing in will soon become outdated. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Don’t miss the window of opportunity

Robotics automation original equipment manufacturers (OEM) need to take advantage of the growing demand quickly. Speed in the product development lifecycle is crucial to success, as is the delivery of high-quality products. Partnering with an OEM supplier who can provide a full range of first-class components with financial and time-saving benefits has become even more essential for achieving business scale and growth.

The article is authored by Subramaniam Thiruppathi, Director- Sales, Strategic Accounts- India & Sub-Continent and Richard Thompson, Director- Global OEM Sales, Zebra Technologies 

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