Chart: Why Industrial Robot Sales are Sky High
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
Industrial robots have come a long way since George Devol invented “Unimate” in 1961.
After pitching his idea to Joseph Engelberger at a cocktail party, the two soon saw their new creation become the first mass-produced robotic arm to be used in factory automation.
Today, this robot class is raising the bar of global manufacturing to new heights, striking a seamless mix of strength, speed, and precision. As a result, demand for industrial robots keeps growing at a robust 14% per year, setting the stage for 3.1 million industrial robots in operation globally by 2020.
Drivers of Robot Success
Why are industrial robots flying off the shelves at an unprecedented rate?
Significant factors include advancements in machine learning and computer vision, since the prospect of new functionality leads to more use cases and increased demand. In addition, the maturation of 3D printing technology and the soaring interest in collaborative robots also deserve some of the credit.
What’s interesting though, is that according to experts, the record demand for robots is actually largely in response to the notable decline in unit costs.
ARK Investment Management, a leading researcher in this market, says that industrial robot costs are expected to drop a solid 65% between 2015 and 2025. Impressively, the cost per robot will plunge from $31,000 to $11,000 over that decade of time.
A Sudden Cost Decline
Why are unit costs dropping so fast?
For ARK, such price shifts account for the workings of Wright’s Law, which states: “for every cumulative doubling in number of units produced, costs will decline by a consistent percentage”. In the field of robotics that cost decline, also known as the “learning rate”, has been around 50%.
As industrial robotic operations grow, especially in the automotive industry, the manufacturing sector continues to save millions. Meanwhile, working conditions improve as robots take mundane, repetitive, and dangerous task loads from human workers.
At present, the largest market share of industrial robots is held in the Asia-Pacific region – namely, China, Japan, Korea, and India. But as current trends suggest, these falling prices will only steer further global reach.
The Outlook for Automation and Manufacturing Jobs in Seven Charts
How will technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence end up impacting jobs and the workforce? Here are seven charts that tell the story.
The Outlook for Automation and Manufacturing in Seven Charts
View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.
Over the last decade, the prospect of mass automation has seemingly shifted from a vague possibility to an inescapable reality.
While it’s still incredibly difficult to estimate the ultimate impact of automation and AI on the economy, the picture is starting to become a bit clearer as projections begin to converge.
Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur, and it highlights seven different charts that show us how automation is shaping the world – and in particular, the future outlook for manufacturing jobs.
The Age of Automation
The precise details are up to debate, but here are a few key areas that many experts agree on with respect to the coming age of automation:
Half of manufacturing hours worked today are spent on manual jobs.
- In an analysis of North American and European manufacturing jobs, it was found that roughly 48% of hours primarily relied on the use of manual or physical labor.
- By the year 2030, it’s estimated that only 35% of time will be spent on such routine work.
Automation’s impact will be felt by the mid-2020s.
- According to a recent report from PwC, the impact on OECD jobs will start to be felt in the mid-2020s.
- By 2025, for example, it’s projected that 10-15% of jobs in three sectors (manufacturing, transportation and storage, and wholesales and retail trade) will have high potential for automation.
- By 2035, the range of jobs with high automation potential will be closer to 35-50% for those sectors.
Industrial robot prices are decreasing.
- Industrial robot sales are sky high, mainly the result of falling industry costs.
- This trend is expected to continue, with the cost of robots falling by 65% between 2015 and 2025.
- With the cost of labor generally rising, this makes it more difficult to keep low-skilled jobs.
Technology simultaneously creates jobs, but how many?
- One bright spot is that automation and AI will also create jobs, likely in functions that are difficult for us to conceive of today.
- Historically, technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed.
- AI alone is expected to have an economic impact of $15.7 trillion by 2030.
Unfortunately, although experts agree that jobs will be created by these technologies, they disagree considerably on how many. This important discrepancy is likely the biggest x-factor in determining the ultimate impact that these technologies will have in the coming years, especially on the workforce.
Will a Robot Take Your Job?
Is your job going the way of the robots? The Future of Jobs Report estimates the changes robotics will bring to the workplace over the next few years.
Will a Robot Take Your Job?
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
Are you ready to hand your job over to R2D2?
A recent study by the Mckinsey Global Institute forecasts up to 800 million workers worldwide could lose their jobs to automation by 2030.
Industrial machine operators, administrators, and service workers will be the first to take a hit. Meanwhile, poorer countries with lower investment in tech are less likely to feel the pinch.
Jobs Out, Jobs In
Today’s chart uses data from the Future of Jobs Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum to take a peek at the changes technology will bring over the next four years.
It shows while humans are handing over a larger share of labor hours to their robot counterparts, the future isn’t all bleak. Although 75 million jobs could be displaced by the coming shift in labor, there will be 133 million new jobs created as well. While certain jobs are becoming redundant, human skills remain in demand in other areas.
Here is the full list of jobs on the chopping block in 2022, as well as the careers that will rise in importance:
|Stable Roles||New Roles||Redundant Roles|
|Managing Directors and Chief Executives||Data Analysts and Scientists*||Data Entry Clerks|
|General and Operations Managers*||AI and Machine Learning Specialists||Accounting, Bookkeeping and Payroll Clerks|
|Software and Applications Developers and Analysts*||General and Operations Managers*||Administrative and Executive Secretaries|
|Data Analysts and Scientists*||Big Data Specialists||Assembly and Factory Workers|
|Sales and Marketing Professionals*||Digital Transformation Specialists||Client Information and Customer Service Workers*|
|Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products||Sales and Marketing Professionals*||Business Services and Administration Managers|
|Human Resources Specialists||New Technology Specialists||Accountants and Auditors|
|Financial and Investment Advisers||Organizational Development Specialists*||Material-Recording and Stock-Keeping Clerks|
|Database and Network Professionals||Software and Applications Developers and Analysts*||General and Operations Managers*|
|Supply Chain and Logistics Specialists||Information Technology Services||Postal Service Clerks|
|Risk Management Specialists||Process Automation Specialists||Financial Analysts|
|Information Security Analysts*||Innovation Professionals||Cashiers and Ticket Clerks|
|Management and Organization Analysts||Information Security Analysts*||Mechanics and Machinery Repairers|
|Electrotechnology Engineers||Ecommerce and Social Media Specialists||Telemarketers|
|Organizational Development Specialists*||User Experience and Human-Machine||Electronics and Telecommunications Installers and Repairers|
|Chemical Processing Plant Operators||Interaction Designers||Bank Tellers and Related Clerks|
|University and Higher Education Teachers||Training and Development Specialists||Car, Van and Motorcycle Drivers|
|Compliance Officers||Robotics Specialists and Engineers||Sales and Purchasing Agents and Brokers|
|Energy and Petroleum Engineers||People and Culture Specialists||Door-To-Door Sales Workers, News and Street Vendors, and Related Workers|
|Robotics Specialists and Engineers||Client Information and Customer Service Workers*||Statistical, Finance and Insurance Clerks|
|Petroleum and Natural Gas Refining Plant Operators||Service and Solutions Designers||Lawyers|
|Digital Marketing and Strategy Specialists|
Source: Future of Jobs Survey 2018, World Economic Forum. Roles marked with * appear across multiple columns. This reflects the fact that they might be seeing stable or declining demand across one industry, but be in demand in another.
New Jobs For A New World
While this coming wave of automation is bound impact the workplace, for now you might want to leave that torch and pitchfork at home – the robots aren’t out to steal your job just yet.
Oxford University researchers predict 47% of American jobs are likely to face automation over the next 20 years. However, the same study reveals 53% of jobs are unlikely to be affected at all. Robots are less likely to take over roles dependent on human interaction – like doctors and teachers. Workers in specialized roles, such as plumbing and care work, can breathe easy too.
Jobs in manufacturing, transport, and administration may decrease. But a potential rise in health, science, tech, and hospitality jobs is likely to offset this trend.
So the real question is, will robots replace your job, or make room for you to pursue a new career?
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