By: Len Zapalowski
Published by Welding Productivity – May / June 2022
From futuristic demons of science fiction to the syncopated assembly line robot arms in automobile manufacturing, robotics has become a catchword for mechanically replicating tasks that were often only possible in human hands. Robotics have actually progressed far beyond replicating human capabilities, and as the technology improves, the opportunities expand.
As recently as four years ago, the application of robotics was neither widely nor well understood. In the public eye, progress was framed in the context of wholesale job losses. In blue-collar industies, this caused both corporate and political concern. At the same time, the economics of traditional manufacturing were applying consistent pressures to corporate bottom lines. Offshore competition in lower labor cost countries was the driver. Global robot production grew in 2021 by approximately 10 percent.
Two recent external events have had an impact on the growth of robot manufacturing. The ongoing drive to seek corporate growth through efficiencies has seen the application in mechanical assembly to a much broader set of industries. Food & Beverage, electronics, waste management and pharmaceuticals have all seen considerable growth in robotic applications.
The accelerating values of land, labor and capital continue to increase robotics’ rise. The cost of industrial land has received while vacancy rates have dropped precipitously – 4 to 5 percent in the United States, and as low as 0.9 percent in cities like Vancouver, Canada.
One Rapidly expanding industry creating that shortage is e-commerce. More than 19 percent of retail sales are now online, and industry estimates forecast that the United States will require 1 billion sq. ft. of industrial space over the next fiv years to satisfy the warehousing needs of this burgeoning industry. The need for logistics space is now competing with traditional applications of industrial land. All those last mile Amazon deliveries need to come a local distribution center.