As robot production has increased, costs have gone down. Over the past 30 years, the average robot price has fallen by half in real terms, and even further relative to labor costs. Likewise, people with the skills required to design, install, operate, and maintain robotic production systems are becoming more widely available. Advances in computing power, software development techniques, and networking technologies have made assembling, installing, and maintaining robots faster and less costly than before. Robots are getting smarter, too. Today, these and other factors are helping to boost robot adoption in the kinds of application they already excel at today: repetitive, high-volume production activities. Increasingly, they’re also taking over other, lower volume jobs as well.
The inherent flexibility of a device that users can program quickly and easily will greatly reduce the number of times a robot needs to repeat a given task to justify the cost of buying and commissioning it. This will lower the volume threshold and make robots an economical choice for niche tasks, not just mass production.
To capture the full value of the opportunities presented by these new systems, companies will need to take a holistic and systematic approach, aligning their automation strategy closely with the current and future needs of the business.