Rise of the robots: usage of industrial bots expected to increase sharply

Towards the end of last year, we were hearing more about the advance of robots and AI, and how that will impact levels of human employment, and another report has just emerged regarding the spread of the usage of robots.

The Boston Consulting Group’s new report claims that the usage of advanced industrial robots is nearing a point of “take-off” which will power a “new wave of productivity growth” across a number of industries.

There will be a considerable acceleration in the use of robots in industry through to 2025, with a resultant productivity boost of up to 30 per cent across many industries – allowing for labour cost reductions of up to 33 per cent in countries including the US, China, Japan, South Korea, and Germany (these nations are the front-runners when it comes to robotic workers).

The average total cost of manufacturing labour over the world’s 25 largest goods exporting nation will drop by 16 per cent due to automation, Boston Consulting Group believes.

Harold L. Sirkin, a senior partner at BCG, commented: “As labour costs rise around the world, it is becoming increasingly critical that manufacturers rapidly take steps to improve their output per worker to stay competitive. Companies are finding that advances in robotics and other manufacturing technologies offer some of the best opportunities to sharply improve productivity.”

A recent survey of US-based manufacturing execs by BCG found that 72 per cent said their organisations would invest in additional automation (or other “advanced-manufacturing technologies”) over the next five years. These were all bigwigs at major firms with revenue of at least $1 billion (£655 million).

Currently, industrial robots deal with 10 per cent of manufacturing tasks that can be performed by machines – with that percentage expected to rise to 25 per cent globally come 2025.

Another BCG partner, Michael Zinser, noted: “For many manufacturers, the biggest reasons for not replacing workers with robots have been pure economics and technical limitations.

“But the price and performance of automation are improving rapidly. Within five to ten years, the business case for robots in most industries will be compelling, even for many small and midsized manufacturers.”