An insight into the EU robotics industry© John Nettleship (mailsparky / stock.xchng)
New JRC study explores EU robotics industry prospects
The JRC has recently published the study "A Helping Hand for Europe: the Competitive Outlook for the EU Robotics Industry".
The report indicates that, while the EU robotics industry has benefited in the past from a strong automotive industry market, the market for conventional industrial robotics for large-scale automated manufacturing is becoming saturated, with limited room for future growth.
Potential new market directions for the EU robotics industry include applications in different industry sectors, such as food processing or health care.
The study goes deeper into two specific areas that have been selected due to their potential market and EU capability: robotics applications in SMEs and robotics safety.
It underlines that in manufacturing SMEs, robots could be used as a "third hand" in many jobs. However, this is yet a large untapped market for robotics, as SMEs would require lighter, lower cost robots plus human interfaces for easy programming.
If applications are to grow outside traditional mass manufacturing, assuring safety becomes crucial, especially when robots work in close interaction with humans.
In addition, the study provides a techno-economic analysis of the robotics sector, explores the definitions of robotics and the current state of the art of technologies and applications, the overall market and its potential.
For instance, it highlights the fact that the greater part of the cost is often the systems integration service, programming and auxiliary systems, which favours the strengths of the EU industrial system: system integration and software production in its various forms. In this sense, the outlook for the robotics industry in the EU is still healthy and the EU strengths should be the basis for transition to a new phase of the industry, which could have an impact at a macro-economic level for the region.
As an overall conclusion, the report calls for a holistic approach, stimulating both supply and demand. It recommends, in addition that:
- Policy actions should address the top level of added value: design, engineering and software, with a more intense focus on production.
- Efforts should be focused on the largest unexploited opportunities, such as food processing, high-tech industries and professional and domestic services.
- Policy should help to build a strong domestic market on the new customer segments, with the aim of equipping the emerging users segments (e.g: care, SMEs, etc.) and establishing robust models and experience before pursuing export markets in the longer term.
Other recommendations include the promotion of a cluster strategy, the finance for innovative entrepreneurs, the expansion of education in robotics engineering, the encouragement of competition, financial incentives and the promotion of standards in robotics and the development of a complete legal framework.