Following the post of a personal account from Shanghai from an Interact Analysis research director, I have two market research reports from the firm. One report is global collaborative robot market; the other global manufacturing. Both are updates stemming from geopolitical events.

Interact does the best job of digging up data of any of the firms I’ve talked with. I’d recommend taking all projections with a grain of salt. As Yogi Berra (or any of a dozen other prophets) has said, “Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.”

China to buy half of the world’s collaborative robots from 2023

• Overall cobot sales hit record high in 2021 at 31,325 units

• Cobot market to exceed $2 billion by 2026

• Logistics and service industries will be the long-term market drivers

Updated cobot research from Interact Analysis shows that the market enjoyed 45% growth in 2021 as part of a post-pandemic rebound. The market for collaborative robots will continue to grow strongly out to 2026 with annual growth rates sitting at just over 20%. Logistics and service industries are likely to be the long-term growth drivers. 

The Chinese market for collaborative robots continues to lead over the EMEA and Americas regions. Interact Analysis predicts that China’s market share by shipments will increase from 49.1% in 2021 to a staggering 54.4% in 2026 (at which point annual unit ship ments will exceed 50,000). The research shows that China’s 2022-2026 cobot CAGRwill be 29% – the highest of all the global regions. The Americas – where uptake of cobots particularly in manufacturing is much more cautious – are likely to retain the smallest market share overall with a still impressive 5-year CAGR of 19.4%. 

By 2026 the collaborative robot market will be three times the size it was in 2021, exceeding $2bn that year and with shipment rates hitting the roof at 100,000 units. The outlook is positive for the long-term, with the research showing that growth rates of 20% will be maintained right out to 2030.

A key focus for cobot companies right now is on making their products suitable for new application scenarios. Currently, we are seeing a strong uptake in collaborative robot usage within the medical, education, logistics and catering fields. Moving forward, it is likely that we will see greater uptake within the industrial manufacturing industry where cobots are helping to plug the gaps caused by ongoing labor shortages.  

Maya Xiao, Senior Analyst at Interact Analysis comments, “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of labor shortages is seemingly never ending. This is leading many to invest in collaborative robots. Our research shows that once one competitor invests in collaborative robots, and it is seen to work, there is a ripple effect. In 2021, global cobot shipments achieved a phenomenal year-on-year increase of 44.6%. Collaborative robots are being used as a form of ‘future-proofing’ because the pandemic creates so much uncertainty that companies don’t know what to expect next. Annually, we predict a 20-30% growth rate for the market, right out to 2026.”   

Global manufacturing production value to hit $44.5 trillion in 2022

  • Manufacturing output to decline to $44.3 trillion in 2023
  • Ukraine conflict creates perfect storm for automotive
  • Shanghai lockdowns exacerbate China’s supply chain struggles

New research from Interact Analysis projects that total manufacturing industry output will grow by 4% in 2022, then decline by $0.2 trillion in 2023, before rising again in 2024 and 2025.

The new research profiles Russia and Ukraine to ascertain stress points for MIO regions. Despite a GDP of over $1.7 trillion, Russia is considered an ‘emerging economy’ due to its small manufacturing base. However, since the largest companies in Russia are energy suppliers, the country is considered an ‘energy superpower’. Escalating fuel prices, which will impact Europe far more severely than the USA, are an obvious fallout from the conflict. Ukraine on the other hand had a GDP of just over $155 billion in 2020 according to the IMF, of which just over 30% was industrial production. Ukraine produces 70% of the world’s Neon – a key input in semiconductor production – and half of Ukrainian Neon is from Odessa and Mariupol. Since both these cities are key Russian targets, we expect one fallout of the conflict to be severe increases in the price of Neon. This will be a further big problem for the already beleaguered chip industry, which will turn to cheaper suppliers in China for relief.

The Shanghai lockdowns have also had an undoubtable impact on the manufacturing industry, particularly because the city hosts a port that handles over 25% of all Chinese freight traffic. Shanghai is primarily a finance center, however if the Chinese government were to implement similar measures in one of their major manufacturing hubs, it could spell disaster for the global economy, since China accounts for 44.4% of total global production output.

Adrian Lloyd, CEO at Interact Analysis says, “Automotive is particularly worthy of comment at the moment. The sector was already facing severe pressures following the pandemic, and the Ukraine conflict has made matters far worse for the industry. One of these problems is the new pressures on semiconductors, which already hit the automotive sector hard. Another is that Russia provides the majority of the world’s palladium which is used to produce catalytic converters and is now inaccessible. And yet another problem is that Ukraine is a key manufacturer of components for Western Europe’s automotive industry, particularly wire harnesses, supplies of which are now intermittent. As a result of all this, we predict minimal growth for automotive of 2.8% in 2022.

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