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技術進化、應用領域擴展 工業機器人前景看好 (2019-05-22 IEK產業情報網 )

Given the advancement of new technologies and new products, the Industrial IoT (IIoT) is set for long-term development. The plethora of production facilities and production management systems at factories are being connected and optimized, to enable mass production with bespoke designs. The industrial robot industry has seen the number of players mushrooming over recent years. The global installation of articulated robots exceeded 300,000 units in 2017. The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) forecasts the worldwide number of installed articulated robots will grow at a double-digit CAGR in 2016-2020.
The demand for manufacturing automation is on a steady increase. Traditional industries, such as shoe manufacturing, textiles and food processing are also moving toward smart manufacturing. It is expected that the number of articulated robots manufactured and installed in Taiwan will continue to rise given the growing demand.
In terms of application distribution, 67% of the installed articulated robots are used for transport, welding, and loading/unloading. The top three industry users of these robots are automobile & components, electronics and electrical machinery, and mechanical & metal processing.
One third of industrial robots sold go to automobile OEMs and component manufacturers, another one third to electronics & electrical machinery, chemical engineering, rubber and plastics. The remaining one third is for mechanical & metal processing. It is worth noting that the installation of industrial robots by light industries such as textiles, shoes, furniture, and food processing, has been increasing rapidly. This is the reason why leading players around the world have been introducing robots with lower loading capacities.



M&A and Strategic Alliances Continue.The Trend of IIoT is Unstoppable
It is inevitable that industrial robot manufacturers will need to extend their footprint to include the offering of integrated smart services in order to facilitate IIoT applications. The cooperation and M&A activities between robot manufacturers and software providers in industrial control and artificial intelligence are set to continue.
In 2017, the Swiss automation giant ABB acquired B&R, and started to collaborate with Kawasaki Heavy Industries for the production of dual-arm robots. Fanuc from Japan has been working with Makino from Japan, Hexagon from Sweden and Mold Bao from China to construct automation systems for the development of flexible automation production systems. After their acquisition of KUKA in Germany, Midea acquired Servotronix, a motion control manufacturer from Israel. Yaskawa is collaborating with Everwin Precision to establish a JV robot company for the development of the fastest and smallest robots for the electronics industry.
The integration of factory equipment and production systems can create immense benefits. Leading examples include: ABB’s acquisition of B&R and their cooperation with IBM in AI, Schneider and Microsoft, SAP’s collaboration with KUKA and Mitsubishi, and Fanuc’s launch of FIELD (Intelligent Edge Link & Drive) systems in March 2018. These are all signs of the unstoppable development of IIoT applications which is accompanied with software innovations such as apps to monitor and manage robots.



Industrial Robot Manufacturing around the WorldThe Number of Players Continues to Rise
The demand for industrial robots from the electronics & electrical machinery, chemical engineering, rubber and plastics industries remains significant. The number of employees in the global consumer electronics industry exceeds 10 million people. Assuming 30% of the workforce is replaced with machines, this translates to a demand for industrial robots in the millions. The market size is so huge that robot manufacturers are fighting for their shares. The International Robot Exhibition (iREX) in Japan at the end of 2017 showcased many SCARA robots with loading capacities of 10kg and under targeted at consumer electronics production lines. This is to meet the growing demand.
Cobots are becoming increasingly important, as manufacturers move toward smart production. The biggest appeal of cobots is that they will not harm workers. Meanwhile, industrial robots will take over more of the vision inspection tasks.
Traditionally, robots are most suitable for large-scale manufacturers in traditional industries. Cobots are targeting at EMS manufacturers and SMEs specialized in customized offerings, dealing with rush orders and short lead times. Conventional robots emphasize speed, accuracy and reliability. Cobots are not known for swiftness, and this somehow limits their application and repeat purchases from customers. If cobots can maintain their protective features whilst operating at a speed of one meter per second, they will be even more competitive.
The flat panel industry, the PCB industry, the shoe manufacturing industry and the semiconductor industry remain the blue ocean market for robots. As the semiconductor industry demands cobots with larger loading capacities than currently available, larger models are expected to be introduced to the market soon.



Robots Made by Taiwanese ManufacturersThe Integration of Machinery, Electronics and ICT Information Systems is the Key
From the labor-intensive light industries in the early days to the strategic development of selected industries, metal products processing has played a pivotal role. Taiwan has earned its reputation in the hand tools, waterware and bicycle industries. It is imperative for the machinery and metal processing industry to enhance its international competitiveness and its global footprint. The improvement of technology competence and automation levels are the key to maintaining market leadership.
Smart machinery systems from Taiwan boast the broadest footprint in the world. However, smart robot manufacturing is a market where key players are likely to grow in dominance. It is suggested that Taiwanese manufacturers should not just focus on the production of robots with a high cost-performance ratio, as this would be competing head-to-head with the likes of KUKA and Fanuc. Rather, Taiwanese companies should endeavour to integrate their experience of developing and manufacturing robots with machinery, electronics and ICT systems in order to create greater business opportunities.
本文原刊載於IEK產業情報網,著作權為工研院產科國際所所有。
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