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Robotics market to grow at 12% annually over next two years

The International Federation of Robotics forecasts that demand for industrial robots will continue at an average annual growth rate of 12 per cent between 2015 and 2017.

In Asia/Australia, robot sales are expected to increase by around an average of 16 per cent per year. The automotive and electronics industries will continue to see increasing investment in robots.

Lim Say Leong, Assistant Vice President, Marketing of ABB, thinks that in a new era of robotics, collaboration between humans and robots will become a reality. ABB will be showcasing its robotics solutions at MTA2015.

Small parts assembly is leading the charge in human-robot collaboration, where humans and machines are starting to work right next to each other, with no need for cages and other protective equipment or barriers. 

Automation will become simpler and more user-friendly, such as modular plug-and-produce components that will enable people without extensive experience in robotics to programme and integrate a robot in the process.

The tools that allow robots to interact with the world around them are also in development, such as advanced sensing and advanced gripping.

In order to allow robots to do all the jobs that they are well suited for, they will need to develop more "human-like" abilities to find, identify and manipulate objects. 

When combined with powerful processing capability, tools like force control and advanced 2D and 3D vision systems will create a kind of robotic "independence" and allow the robot to make "decisions" about what to do when it encounters the inevitable hiccups that arise in everyday operation. 

ABB has developed a new generation of Integrated Force Control and Integrated Vision to help make these advanced technologies available to more and more end-users.

Industries must act now to prepare themselves in integrated automation for when the economy recovers; where further automation will lead to a less labour intensive and more productive future, with less resources and time used to produce more goods at a high and consistent quality. 

For manufacturers, robots not only bring productivity, but also huge reductions in energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. 

Automation lines equipped with vision systems can also operate without the need for ambient factory lighting or air-conditioning (subject to the requirements of the manufactured product itself), allowing for the possibility of 24/7 operation with substantial energy savings.

Companies with a well-established manufacturing base can also leverage on systems that can collaborate and determine solutions that minimise the cost to the business. In Asia, companies manufacture items ranging from one-off design to large volume production of the same design. 

These pose great challenges for robots to be innovative, and yet robots can be productive to meet the desired return on investment.

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