Germany’s robotics and automation industry is benefiting from booming demand, according to the industry association VDMA.
In the first four months of 2022, application intake increased by 38 percent year-on-year. The dynamic development of the market was already noticeable with the results of 2021, where the industry turnover increased by 13 percent – more than expected.
“The robotics and automation industry is booming,” says Frank Conrad, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the VDMA Robotics + Automation Association.
“However, suppliers will not be able to process orders as quickly as usual. The challenge now is to manage bottlenecks in supply chains.”
With projected growth of 6 percent, the industry outlook for robotics and automation is also positive for 2022 — but it remains lower than previously forecast, reflecting badly disrupted supply chains. In particular, shortages of electrical and electronic components extend delivery times.
The three sub-sectors developed differently in 2021. Machine vision gained 16 percent: industry sales amounted to 3.1 billion euros. Robotics sales rose 13% to €3.5 billion.
Integrated Assembly Solutions reported an 11 percent increase in sales to €7.1 billion. Overall, sales in robotics and automation rose 13% to €13.6 billion – more than originally expected.
VDMA Robotics + Automation expects a 7 percent increase in turnover of integrated assembly solutions to 7.6 billion euros in 2022. In the area of robotics, a 5 percent growth is expected to reach 3.6 billion euros. Machine visibility is also set to grow by 5 percent, corresponding to sales of 3.2 billion euros.
Frank Conrad says: “The overall robotics and automation forecast is over 6 percent with projected industrial turnover of €14.4 billion. Hence, robotics and automation in 2022 is roughly on track with the strong pre-crisis level of €14.7 billion for 2019.”
The VDMA R+A member says its network, which consists of 50,000 people in 350 companies, has “important tasks” to solve these critical matters for the future.
Experts believe that increasing the use of robotics and automation is indispensable for achieving climate and environmental protection goals and for sustainable businesses.
In a recent trend survey by an automated company (Messe Munich), robots ensure quality standards for products in high-tech sustainable manufacturing, according to 88 percent of industry decision-makers.
Industry solutions are also helping the circular economy and renewable energies make their breakthroughs. Green technology products, such as photovoltaic modules, can be manufactured cost-effectively in Europe in large quantities using automation technology.
The demand for fuel cells or particularly powerful batteries for electric vehicles opens up new market opportunities.
The future of work
80 percent of experts who make decisions about robotics and automation in German industrial companies also believe that technological innovation will have a positive impact on jobs.
Human-robot collaboration and the use of assistance systems will create high-quality jobs and provide new opportunities for continuing education and training.
The new generation of automation technology that can be used entirely without programming and intuitive to apply is likely to lead the way here. 52 percent of decision makers are fully convinced that better-qualified employees will get better-paying jobs in the future.
Digitization, mobile robotics and internal logistics
Seamlessly interconnected machines, state-of-the-art AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) and AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots) are revolutionizing factories. In combination with innovative software solutions, they fill in the last gaps and form truly integrated systems in the smart factory.
Skills shortages are a major concern
Robotics and automation companies are facing a growing labor and skills shortage as baby boomers retire from the workforce. Looking at the important missions ahead, this is increasingly becoming a risk factor.
“The labor shortage cannot be solved by robotics and automation alone,” says Conrad. “Companies are doing everything they can to address the shortage of young talent.
“However, we need a stronger commitment from policymakers: particularly in Germany, staffing shortages threaten to become the next major bottleneck, in the wake of the current disruptions in supply chains.”
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