Unlocking the economic potential of robotics and automation

Throughout the economic world, corporations are betting massive on robotics and automation. For a lot of, automated methods will account for 25 p.c of capital spending over the subsequent 5 years, outcomes from the 2022 McKinsey International Industrial Robotics Survey present. Industrial-company executives anticipate to see advantages in output high quality, effectivity, and uptime. Nevertheless, many stay cautious of the problem, with the price of {hardware} and an absence of inside expertise on the high of their checklist of issues.

Among the many industrial sectors surveyed, the most important spender on automation over the subsequent 5 years is about to be retail and shopper items, with 23 p.c of respondents from that sector planning to spent greater than $500 million (Exhibit 1). That compares with 15 p.c in meals and beverage and eight p.c in automotive. For logistics and success gamers, automation will signify 30 p.c or extra of their capital spending within the subsequent 5 years—the very best share amongst industrial segments surveyed.

Unlocking the economic potential of robotics and automation

With billions of {dollars} anticipated to be outlaid for automation over the approaching years, industrial corporations want to make sure that they get implementation proper. Many are daunted, the survey outcomes present, and this state of affairs provides a market-winning alternative for know-how suppliers. Essentially the most profitable suppliers would be the ones that may assist industrial corporations overcome challenges, together with these associated to know-how choice, implementation planning, and acquisition of the ability set required for rollout on a bigger scale.

Among the many industrial sectors surveyed, the most important spender on automation over the subsequent 5 years is about to be retail and shopper items.

Some elements of productive exercise are extra amenable to automation than others are, with routine duties on the head of the road. Actions akin to choosing, packing, sorting, motion from level to level, and high quality assurance are already automated to some extent, and these will proceed to see heavy funding over the approaching years. Conversely, actions akin to meeting, stamping, floor remedy, and welding, all of which require excessive ranges of human enter, are much less prone to be automated within the brief to medium phrases (Exhibit 2).

The key use cases for automation in industrial companies include material handling, palletization, and sorting.

The place operations might be automated, the advantages embrace the talents to work sooner and at a better capability, in addition to to offer prime quality (Exhibit 3). As well as, there are upsides in price, operational uptime, and security. However, environmental and sustainability elements are prone to be much less positively affected.

Automation will have a positive impact on speed, safety, quality, and capacity.

A standout message from the survey is that automation will not be straightforward. Individuals report that the first challenges to adoption embrace the capital price of robots and an organization’s basic lack of expertise with automation, cited by 71 p.c and 61 p.c of respondents, respectively. Some say that enterprise confidence in know-how is low, resulting in challenges round conviction and funding. Furthermore, respondents’ expectations of manufacturing and reliability beneficial properties by means of automation are offset by the idea that such beneficial properties will eradicate jobs and should have an effect on present contracts. In reality, that’s not the case since automation sometimes results in modifications in office roles relatively than the creation of redundancies.

Many corporations at present function a hodgepodge of legacy applied sciences and anticipate challenges in implementing a single set of options backed by built-in and interoperable programming and platforms for robotics and automation. Of survey respondents, 42 p.c cite challenges with discovering holistic, end-to-end answer suppliers throughout geographies for the scope of robotics applied sciences of curiosity to them. Corporations are responding to such points with elevated partnerships throughout legacy-system integrators and robotics start-ups and disruptors that provide cutting-edge improvements.

Survey individuals are additionally involved about becoming robotics into present areas and the potential incapacity of machines to interface with merchandise. Issues about security and cyberattacks additionally characteristic as potential areas of jeopardy.

Regardless of important capital commitments, many corporations are struggling to translate their intentions for robotics and automation into actions, with challenges associated to information and return on funding being notably troublesome hurdles. In retail and shopper items, roughly 60 p.c of respondents (14 out of 24) cite these two elements as limitations to progress (Exhibit 4). Different headwinds embrace an absence of technological readiness from a functionality lens and system reliability.

Costs and a lack of knowledge are major bottlenecks in industrial companies’ adoption of automation.

The challenges that industries face current robotics and automation suppliers with a major alternative to assist construct the capabilities required to automate at scale or present help for this effort. Nevertheless, these distributors might want to present convincing solutions to the questions raised by their prospects and work onerous to distinguish themselves from their opponents.

Prospects would most prefer to see differentiation in value, scale, and innovation. Different salient shopping for elements embrace the standard of the product construct, potential to supply an built-in answer, and provision of reference circumstances that present profitable rollouts. Furthermore, distributors ought to be capable to supply options which might be price environment friendly, quickly deployed, dependable, secure, and scalable. And so they want to have the ability to transfer shortly from prototype to scale throughout the buyer’s group.

Circuit board with blue lights

One dependable path to differentiation is to reinforce software program and {hardware} gross sales with full-service fashions. Such fashions would supply not solely set up and integration but in addition upkeep and help by means of the product life cycle. Certainly, 62 p.c of survey respondents agree that almost all prospects favor robotics and automation suppliers that may present full-service fashions for implementation.

Automation suppliers that may transfer towards robotics as a service and act as a single level of contact for upkeep (for each {hardware} and software program) will create a particular aggressive benefit. Survey respondents additionally worth variable price fashions, akin to price per decide.

Drilling down into upkeep and repair fashions, 55 p.c of surveyed industrial gamers would favor {that a} system integrator act as a single level of contact and supply each {hardware} and software program upkeep. In the meantime, 52 p.c need a convertible mannequin wherein system integrators steadily hand over obligations to in-house groups. Further widespread preferences are the talents to work with OEMs for {hardware} and integrators for software program and to contract with a neighborhood third celebration for all upkeep wants.


To supply the correct service on the proper time in the correct means is an enormous ask for robotics and automation suppliers. Nevertheless, given the necessity for industrial corporations to spice up productiveness, create secure provide chains, and discover a substitute for the overheated labor market, the hassle is prone to be justified by the reward. The suppliers that successfully assist corporations notice advantages from robotics and automation and scale the applied sciences throughout markets are prone to emerge with sturdy revenues and a optimistic enterprise trajectory. The productiveness beneficial properties and capability flexibility arising from automation might additionally considerably enhance operational resilience, which is important throughout a time of elevated disruptions.

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