Fresh juice


IFR: world sets record for operational robots in 2022

The world crossed a seminal threshold in 2022 breaching 150 industrial robots deployed per 10,000 human workers according to the latest annual World Robotics report from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

This over 50% jump within barely half a decade signifies blistering automation adoption rates industrializing even hitherto labor-intensive roles like warehouse fulfillment and small-batch manufacturing.

"Such prolific density expansions were unthinkable not long ago pointing to the inevitability of machines radically reshaping global shopfloors," commented IFR President Marina Bill.

Digitization demands prompt many analysts to predict 2030's one million operational robot global fleet may arrive early given recent exponential install trajectories. This places immense pressure upon stakeholders developing complementary job retraining pipelines preventing displacement.

Asia Sets Automation's Gold Standard

Regional breakdowns reaffirm Asia's continued robotization leadership thanks to government subsidization incentives accelerating next-gen smart factories. South Korea again topped tables with over 1000 bots aiding every 10K workers - an entire order of magnitude exceeding runners-up.

"Seoul's investments cultivating domestic automation ecosystems spanning components to integrators cements fruitful public-private partnerships," Bill explained. "And outsized electronics and automotive industries keep fuelling purchases."

Smaller Singapore claimed over 700 units buoyed by both geography and demographics necessitating radical productivity enhancements countering land and labor shortfalls. Germany and Japan rounded the top five on Europe and Asia's strengths though the former slipped behind the latter as ageing societies seek relief from strenuous duties.

Most Intriguing: China Charging Up The Ranks

Arguably most intriguing involves Middle Kingdom momentum galloping up global rankings just cracking the top five with nearly 400 units. But staggering indigenous explosion barely scratches potential given enormous population over 1.4 billion.

Beijing 'five year plans' earmark robotics and allied AI as national champions meriting massive financial support. Sophisticated subsidies encourage both tech startups and factories installing new equipment for heightened efficiencies and improved quality controls.

This primes enormous ripple effects as freshly minted machine learning enhanced robotic platforms permeate everything from toy factories to hog farms benefitting end-to-end supply chains. And annual sales exceeding $15 billion affirm no slowdowns anytime soon.

America Losing Automation Edge

This leaves traditional manufacturing stalwarts playing catch-up according to Bill. The United States currently claims under 300 units significantly trailing the 300+ EU bloc. Analysts worry overseas competition may be outinnovating Stateside incumbents.

"Insufficient investments modernizing legacy systems risk American factories losing ground to Asian and European rivals sporting contemporary automation," cautioned ABI Research chief analyst Dr. Stuart Ravens.

"Cultivating domestic robotics and AI ecosystems proactively building relevant skill sets helps safeguard economic competitiveness rather than reactively responding," he continued.

Nonetheless North America remains the world's largest operational robot market on strength of early movers and sheer economic heft. But complacency leaves the door open for ambitious foreigners to displace domestic producers - and jobs.

The Future Favors The Automated

Regardless exact rankings, the overarching 150+ robot density milestone evidences enterprises worldwide recognizing automation's exponential advantages compounding over time. McKinsey research calculates 45% current activities automatable through adaptation and AI incorporation.

This requires organizations balancing productivity goals against workforce realities. Thankfully most robots increase output and quality without fully replacing humans who handle residual skilled roles and programming. Furthemore new industries blossom creating fresh vocations.

"Automation feels scary but primarily alleviates dull, dangerous or dirty roles freeing us towards more fulfilling callings," Bill said. "Responsible adoption minimizes disruptions enabling more to partake improved prosperity."

But the onus falls upon policymakers crafting supportive skilling programs, educational priorities and regional developments facilitating smooth transitions towards safe human-robot collaboration.

Visionary private-public coordination already witnessed across Denmark, Singapore and Japan provides templates gaining adherents globally. Ultimately automation feels inexorable as innovations inevitably filter across borders.

Rather than necessary evils, perhaps emerging machine counterparts filling workplace gaps will unleash new realms for human imagination unburdened by routine drudgery. At least for the vast majority willing adapting skill sets benefiting from technological transformations rather than eschewing progress.

Because beyond number crunching reporting swelling robot ranks, underlying impetus still serves enabling better futures. The race towards full automation then becomes less binary opposition against imaginary Terminators but more so collectively elevating world living standards. 150 down, 850 more milestones towards that goal.

Share with friends:

Write and read comments can only authorized users