Research shows; cobots on the rise among SMEs

Robots and other smart tools are increasingly being used by Dutch companies. This is mainly because robots have become more affordable and attractive to SMEs. Yet the full potential is not yet being fully utilized. These are the main findings of a study by Reichelt elektronic. It interviewed 1,500 European industrial companies, including 250 in the Netherlands about their vision and experiences with robotization.

Robots are essential

Robots are desperately needed. As many as 96 percent of those surveyed indicated that the use of robots contributes to improved competitiveness. To compete with the competition, therefore, robotization is a requirement. It is therefore not surprising that 93% of the companies surveyed are already deploying robots. Among SMEs, the figure is almost 80%.

When looking at the tasks that robots perform, it is mainly production. 63% of those surveyed indicate that this is one of the main areas of work in which automation is applied, followed by warehouse logistics. The main purpose of automation is to relieve the burden on workers. More than half have the robots perform physically difficult tasks, followed by hazardous tasks, repetitive tasks and testing tasks. Specifically, these include packaging tasks, machine loading, palletizing and simple pick-and-place applications.

Biggest barriers

Robots are becoming increasingly popular, but respondents do not plan to automate everything. Only 3% say they want to fully automate production, while 18% plan to automate a small portion of production. Barriers holding back automation are acquisition costs and the effort involved in integration.

One way to make the implementation of a robotic system as smooth as possible is to bring in people with experience in and knowledge about robotics. 88% of Dutch companies consider it important to have robot professionals present internally. In addition, a large proportion consider it important to have sufficient budget and financial planning that takes into account unexpected expenses.

Rise of collaborative robots

Collaborative robots are robots designed to interact with humans. In industry, this concept has been received with enthusiasm in recent years. Nearly half of those surveyed say they work with cobots and a third plan to do so in the next 12 months. Reasons cited are the flexibility, versatility and lower acquisition costs. A clear trend to invest more in cobots can be seen especially among SMEs. Companies that already use cobots also use them primarily for production tasks. In addition, they are used significantly more often for quality inspection, compared to traditional robots.

Robotics increasingly accessible

Robots have evolved greatly in recent years. They have become smaller, more compact, smarter and more versatile. The comings of cobots have also been able to convince smaller companies. Therefore, the future of robots looks promising. Companies of any size can use them to increase productivity and produce reliably. In addition, the cooperation between humans and robots offers special opportunities to tackle complicated challenges.

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