What is robotics?
Robotics is the designing, building and application of machines to execute and automate tasks performed by humans. Globally, there are 3 million industrial robots.
A complex field with highly sophisticated and state of the art technology, it’s no surprise that the global robotics industry is forecasted to grow to USD 70 billion by 2028.
Germany’s robotics industry: The numbers
Of Europe’s operational stock of industrial robots, Germany remains the largest user with 221,500 of 580,000 units (38%) as of 2020.
This is about 10 times the stock of the UK, five times of France and three times the number in Italy, making Germany the epicentre of Europe’s robotics industry.
With 371 industrial robots per 10,000 employees, Germany’s manufacturing industry has the highest robot to employee density in Europe, followed by 289th place for Sweden, 246th in Denmark, 224th in Italy and 221st in Belgium.
On a global level, Germany ranks 4th after South Korea, Singapore and Japan.
Over the last two decades, the robotics and automation (R&A) industry has almost doubled in revenue with 6.1 billion euros in revenue in 2002 and 13.4 billion in 2021.
As the R&A sector recovers from Germany’s pandemic hit economy, revenue is expected to grow further with the resumption of investments and the global reopening. While there could be potential supply bottlenecks, sales could surpass the 2019 record of 14.7 billion euros.
Domestically, robot adoption rates differ across industries. For instance, only 0.9% of non-manufacturing plants in Germany utilised robots. Conversely, robot utilisation is much higher at 8.2% in the manufacturing industry.
Robotics & Automation and Clusters in Germany
One of the largest robotics networks, Automation Valley Nordbayern, is located in Bavaria, the state with the largest concentration of R&A networks and clusters in Germany.
Larger R&A clusters include BIOPRO Baden Würtemberg in Baden-Würtemberg, Forum Med Tech Pharma in Bavaria and Silicon Saxony e.V based in Saxony.
Industrie 4.0 and Cobots
First coined in Germany over a decade ago, Industrie 4.0 has set the global standard for driving efficiency. Factories worldwide are now aiming towards increased productivity and at the same time reduce wastage leading to greater cost-efficiency through the use of connected intelligent production strategies. With Industrie 4.0, smart machines become more effective through the increased use of real-time data, cyber-physical systems and interconnectivity between systems.
The latest trend in production shows increased adoption of collaborative robots (cobots) in factory environments.
Cobots are designed to handle repetitive and strenuous tasks, and are able to work alongside humans. Human-robot collaboration has shown to improve productivity as human workers are able to focus on more complex issues that require problem-solving.
Although a relatively new sector within the robots industry, demand has been increasing with sales for cobots in Germany projected to achieve more than 71,000 units in 2025.
Between 2021 and 2027, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the cobot market is forecasted to reach over 43%, signalling growth in this sector.
Globally, the collaborative robots market is estimated to grow to USD 1,286.7 million by 2025.
Robotics companies in Germany
KUKA Robotics Corp
A big four player in the global robotics industry, KUKA Robotics Corp is the leading robotics firm in Germany.
Headquartered in Rheinböllen, Germany, the HAHN Group consists of companies that specialise in industrial automation and robot solutions.
A company that provides solutions for industrial production, Handling Tech implements modular handling, and designs and develops automation solutions.
Specialising in the development, manufacturing and support for automated production systems, SW Automation manufactures a wide range of robotics from automated equipment to robot cells.
OTC DAIHEN EUROPE
One of Europe’s largest manufacturers in robots, cutting machines and arc wielding, OTC DAIHEN EUROPE plans and constructs robotic systems at its European headquarters in Mainhardt, Germany.
Research & Development Initiatives
German robotics R&D has benefitted from several government funding initiatives over the years.
This program formed the basis of merging production technologies with communication and information technologies for enhanced capabilities.
The High-Tech Strategy 2025 is in its 4th cycle and was adopted in 2018 September. This initiative aims to achieve a target of 3.5% of GDP per year by 2025 with the mission of ‘shaping technology for the people’. R&D for the robots sector is focused on areas such as human-robot collaboration, autonomous production robots and more.
Initiated in 2020, this robotics program aims to be the basis of tomorrow’s technological developments. This initiative is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research with a 70 million euros annual budget.
An initiative that focuses on leveraging Europe’s scientific strengths into leadership in breakthrough and disruptive innovation. Part Horizon Europe’s budget focuses on transitioning the manufacturing and construction, autonomous, human-robot collaboration and enhanced cognition sectors digitally with a budget of 95.5 billion euros and 198 million euros for the robotics R&D sector in the region.
A brighter future ahead
Based on the forecasts from VDMA Robotics + Automation Association, forecasts for 2022 are bullish due to new projects that drive up the demand for Robotics domestically. To propel the robotics industry, the German government has also allocated one of the largest R&D funds with 350 million euros (USD 420 million) till 2026.
For robotics firms considering market access into Germany or Europe, now would be a good time to chart your market expansion strategy.
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