The use of technology and robotics in materials handling is booming, and the total market is expected to reach $20 billion by 2019.
This is among the findings of recent research by industry analysts Technavio. The report divides the market into five key sectors: automotive, chemical, industrial machinery, food and beverage, and electrical and electronics, looking at the growth prospects in all of them.
Rise of the robots
Some industries, in particular the automotive sector, have seen big moves towards the use of robotics for handling materials, with a market expected to hit $6 billion in 2019. This is especially useful for large components that cant be moved by hand easily. For smaller components at assembly plants in Ireland bin racks are still the easiest way to hold components close to the production facility so they can be picked easily.
In the electronics sector, using racks from sources like www.rackzone.ie/bin-racks is a convenient way of holding components, although robotics may be employed to ensure accuracy in delicate assembly work. A new generation of vision-guided robots has been developed specially for the industry, and the market is expected to reach $2.5 billion.
The industrial machinery sector market is smaller. It is expected to hit around $1 billion, but it has similar needs to the auto industry. Continuous production and the need to move heavy components make automation vital to reduce the load on human employees.
The chemical industry often involves hazardous substances and environments that are hostile to human workers, so it has also seen a move towards robotic handling. The robotic handling market here is set to grow at around nine per cent per year, reaching $3.4 billion by 2019.
Food and beverage is perhaps the sector you would think least suited to automation. However, it is predicted to have the fastest growth rate, hitting 11 per cent a year to exceed a value of $1 billion by 2019. Part of this is driven by stricter regulations for food safety and hygiene, which make automated handling an attractive proposition for complying with legal requirements.
Its clear that across all sectors of manufacturing, enterprises are moving to embrace automated materials handling, though not all for the same reasons. Whether its to improve efficiency or carry out complex tasks, the future looks bright.