KEY POINTS

  • The enterprise robot market is heating up, and will continue to grow steadily. We expect 2.8 million enterprise robots to ship between 2016 and 2021. This includes all robots used by businesses. Industrial robots, traditionally used in manufacturing, comprise the bulk of these shipments. 
  • Some $390 billion will be spent on hardware, software, and installation costs for enterprise robots over the next five years. This includes $91.2 billion for enterprise robot installations in 2021, up from $37.7 billion spent in 2015.
  • Key factors are driving up robotics adoption across industries.
    • IoT integration. Robots are gaining internet connectivity, which boosts their automation and analytics capabilities while enabling predictive maintenance.  
    • Labor issues. Business will look to robots as replacements for workers due to rising wages and aging population that will result in worker shortages.
    • Competitive advantages. Whether robots work in tandem with humans or replace them altogether, they can improve output and reduce operating costs.  
  • Manufacturing is at the forefront in adopting enterprise robots. That’s because manufacturers can easily automate portions of the assembly line using robots. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) estimated in 2015 that robots will complete 10-25% of the share of tasks across all manufacturing industries by 2025. 
  • We estimate that the shipping and logistics industry is just behind manufacturing as the No. 2 industry adopter of robots. Shipping and logistics is well-suited to robot implementations because many of the tasks are repetitive and labor intensive, such as sorting items and moving heavy products.
  • In healthcare, robot use is still relatively nascent, but robots are increasingly being used in surgery and for other tasks. Intuitive Surgical, one of the top surgical robot manufacturers, said its 3,597 da Vinci Surgical Systems robots in use performed 670,000 surgeries in 2015.
  • There are a few industries where robots might increasingly have a consumer-facing presence. In the food service, retail, and hospitality industries robots are still largely a novelty, but if experiments pan out, we could see robots deployed more widely. 
  • Automation — which typically includes robots and AI-powered software — is likely to affect job growth considerably. In the US, McKinsey estimates that increased automation could displace 10-15% of middle-skill jobs over the next 10 years. The presumption is that robots will also create more white-collar jobs; however, robots are unlikely to create as many jobs as they displace.
  • Cost is the chief barrier to robot adoption. Besides the cost of the hardware itself, robots also [...]