Washington, DC, -  The Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers today released a new report on the use of advanced robotics in manufacturing.  According to the report, there are currently over 1.5 million robots working in factories across the globe, with an estimated 180,000 in the U.S. alone.  That number is only expected to increase with the global industrial robot market estimated to reach $41 billion by 2020. 

According to a survey done for this report, 59 percent of companies are currently using some form of robotics technology.  And there are signs that robotics capabilities and usage may increase dramatically.  2013 saw venture capital investments in robotics technology companies more than double to $172 million and North American robot orders increased more than 30% to 8,000 units and $800 million.

One of the biggest perceived threats of robotics is the displacement of jobs.  However, this next generation of robots may be different.  A greater robotic workforce could potentially drive a need for more human talent to train and repair that growing workforce and develop the burgeoning technology. Thirty-five percent of respondents to PwC’s survey reported the biggest impact robots will have on the manufacturing workforce is that they will lead to new job opportunities to engineer advanced robots and robotic operating systems, followed by 26 percent who believe it will lead to more demand for talent to manage the robotic workplace.  However, 27 percent of respondents still believe the biggest impact of robots on the U.S. manufacturing workforce in the next three to five years will be the replacement of workers.

This report is part of the Disruptive Innovations in Manufacturing series by the Institute and PwC. 

Visit PwC website.

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