According to the Global Robotics Report, 79 per cent of automation distributors do not believe their customers understand the safety requirements of installing a collaborative robot. Published by Toshiba Machine distributor TM Robotics, the report is available to download here and expresses the opinion of automation distributors on current challenges related to robotics.
The report states that over 55 per cent of automation distributors do not believe collaborative robot technology is advanced enough to deliver the performance demands of manufacturing or packaging industries. This coincides with over 80 per cent of distributors witnessing no decline in industrial robot sales since the dawn of the cobot.
However, the report also highlighted issues in the traditional, industrial robot market. The report emphasised distributors' concerns about existing robotics software, with 45 per cent of distributors stating that difficult-to-understand software was a common problem. Additionally, 38 per cent of distributors highlighted the issue of robot software incompatibility with existing automation systems.
Cybersecurity was raised as another area of uncertainty. Over three-quarters of automation distributors stated their customers did not ask for advice about cybersecurity when upgrading to a smart factory. In the era of Industry 4.0, cybersecurity should be an important consideration. However, when respondents were asked about the features customers specified when choosing a robot, security protocols were not mentioned.
Instead, the most popular features customers are perceived to be looking for were related to simple robot programming at 79 per cent, integrated vision at 55 per cent, and collaborative abilities at 48 per cent.
Nigel Smith, managing director of TM Robotics explains: "Customer expectations of industrial robots are changing. As a result, the way we deliver robots must change too. No longer are robots simply a tool to increase manufacturing output, but a fundamental part of manufacturers' goals for digitalisation. To meet these expectations, distributors must consider what factors are important to today's manufacturers.
"Data has been collected from distributors on six out of seven continents – we are still working on Antarctica. To put some rhetorical flesh on the statistics of these responses, we have also collected some anonymous quotes from distributors of robotic equipment, to deliver an undiluted view on the state of the industry and its customers."
The Global Robotics Report is available to download from the TM Robotics website. TM Robotics is the authorised distributor of Toshiba Machine robots for the EMEA region and North and South America. For more information about TM Robotics, go to www.tmrobotics.com.