When most people think of robots, they either envision humanoid servants (which aren’t quite here yet) or big machines on automotive production lines (which have been around for decades). Yes, industrial automation providers are still largely focused on vehicle manufacturing, but that’s only part of the picture.
In this RBR Insider report, we look at the top 10 industrial automation providers, from the “big four” — ABB, FANUC, KUKA, and Yaskawa — to complete solution and service providers around the world. Along the way, we’ll see how their products have become smarter, more agile, and more flexible.
The U.S. has a diverse range of robotics developers, investors, and users, but many of the biggest automation providers can be found in East Asia and Europe. We’re watching the global robotics ecosystem — including “Industry 4.0” and “factories of the future” — to see how this evolves.
Where the automation providers are
One trend worth noting is that the leading automation providers are offering suites of hardware, hardware, and support rather than just lines of robot arms, cartesian, or parallel models. Robots have spread from cars and aircraft, appliances, and electronics.
Robots can also be found in food, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and other manufacturing, as end users need the right tools for the job in increasingly accelerating markets. Machine learning and the Industrial Internet of Things are helping manufacturers deal with greater product variability, big data, and the rapidly shifting demands of e-commerce.
In fact, most manufacturing automation providers also support the supply chain and logistics space, and several are working on service robots for healthcare and households. Despite still competition, some interesting partnerships have arisen.
Made for manufacturing
Since we’ve found so many worthy automation providers as we’ve spoken with people in the industry and judged nominations for this year’s RBR50 list, this exclusive report also names some of the “best of the rest.”
In addition, nearly all major manufacturing automation providers have added collaborative robot arms to their offerings. We take a look at a few companies that specialize in cobots, which promise to help small and midsize enterprises become more efficient, productive, and competitive.