Robots are the machines that are able to perform tasks previously performed by humans. These machines work automatically. Robots are usually used to perform those tasks that require repetition over and over, are difficult and dangerous for people. Robots are used in variety of industries. They can perform different tasks such as assembly, welding, spray painting, drilling and packaging (Lamb & Johnson, 2001). Robotics is a very important technology that has greatly affected the manufacturing segments and economic operations throughout all the industries in the world.
The United States of American has been one of the main leading countries regarding the use of robotics in industrial section since four decades. The United States of America is the pioneer of robotics technology. The robotic technology was brought to market for the first time in the early years of 1960s. Now Japan is producing more and more robots with newer innovations and uses. The maximum number of robots are produced and exported by Japan nowadays.
The nature of the present research paper is descriptive, data has been gathered from government agencies, different trade groups present in the robotics industry and other secondary data sources. Uses of industrial robots are discussed. Performance, market demand and structure of robotics industry are discussed.
Uses of Industrial Robots
There are a number of uses of robots in industries. Some of them are given below:
Robots for Welding
Industrial welding is the most popular and the first application of robots. Robots are used to perform repeated welding task to give uniform quality at very high speed.
Robots perform arc welding and spot welding. Major application of spot welding is in Automobile industry.
Robots for Spray Painting
Spray painting is another popular and important use of robots. No paint is wasted as robots paint and the work shows great quality due to the ability of robots to perform repeated and consistent tasks. The robots that are specially designed for spray painting save time, cut costs, show increased quality and relief humans for a hazardous job.
Robots for Assembling
When robots are properly designed and planned then they become able to perform assembly tasks that require repetition. As they are able to repeat a task to a larger extent, they are used in electronic assembly too.
Robots for Palletizing
Robots are designed to load and / or unload different material onto pallets. The news paper industry was facing very high labor costs as it involves the insertion of advertisements for a newspaper. Robots like Cincinnati Milacron have reduced the high cost to some extent as they are used for palletizing the insertion of advertisements for a newspaper (Industrial Robots, n/a).
Performance of Robotics Industry
The robotics technology was first invented in the 1950s in the United States. The first commercial robot came into the United States market in the early years of 1960s. The first commercial robot was used for welding purpose in the manufacturing of automobiles. The sale growth for the United States robotics industry was very slow in the 1960s and 1970s. The sales of robots had increased tremendously in the early years of 1980s in the United States.
Japan entered in the manufacturing of robots almost a decade after the manufacturing of robots in the United States. But the growth of robotics industry in Japan was more rapid than the United States. The robotics industry in Japan had grown to significant extent in the 1980s. The sales of robots had increased 10 times during 1980s (Robotic Industries Association, 2002).
Demands of Robots in Market
Market demands for robots were different for the United States and Japan. The United States’ manufacturing sector is seen as the most demanding sector for robots. The manufacturing sector demands for approximately fifty percent of the total installed robots (United Nations and International Federation of Robotics, 2001). The overall demand for robots is greatly influenced by the demand for robots in manufacturing industry in the United States. The robotics industry in Japan was provided with a strong customer base due to the adoption of robots on very rapid and large scale.
The demand for robots in Japan was not limited to the manufacturing industrial sector only; rather the demand for robots had spread to other industries as well. The demand for robots in manufacturing industry was out spaced by the manufacturers of electrical machinery in the early 1980s. The use of robots had spread among the major users two years after the introduction of robotics in the manufacturing of electrical machinery in Japan. The United States took 17-19 years to reach that level of demand in the electrical machinery manufacturing.
Japan had put more emphasis in the use of robots in the manufacturing of consumer electronics; where as the United States was putting more emphasis on the manufacturing of military and industrial electronics (Womack, Jones, and Roos, 1990).
Structure of Robotics Industry in the United States and Japan
The production and marketing of robots was taking place by less than 20 firms in the United States during 1960s and 1970s (shim, 1998). The firms involved in that era were the firms that were manufacturing robots only and those firms were characterized as specialized robotics firms such as Automatix and Unimation. Other firms that were manufacturing robots were medium sized firms whose primary goals was not to manufacture robots only but they were related to other manufacturing technologies and they were intending to use robots as a support to ease the manufacturing process such as Cincinnati Milacron and Prab. The era of early 1980s had seen the entrance of major firms in the robotics market. Some of these firms are IBM, Westinghouse, General Electric etc. a decline was seen in the domestic sales of robots and several small and medium sized firms that were manufacturing robots were either disappeared or bigger firms had acquired them (Frost & Sullivan, 1995).
The present research study has provided an insight about robotics industry. Robots have been the greatest invention of the twentieth century. The invention of robots has proved to be a great help in the process of manufacturing. Robots not only help in the automobile manufacturing but all types of manufacturing.
The history of robots; types of industrial robots, performance, market demand and structure of robotics industry in the United States and Japan are discussed. The purpose of discussing these topics is to provide assistance by helping policy makers in the assessment of the overall competition of the United States’ robotics industry with the robotics industry of Japan. This assessment of the differences among the robotics industry of the two countries can be of great help to those firms that are involved in the formulation of technology.
Frost & Sullivan. (1995). U.S. robotics markets: Diversification and integration lead to market expansion. Mountain View, CA: Frost & Sullivan.
Industrial Robots. (n/a). retrieved from http://www.robotics.utexas.edu/rrg/learn_more/low_ed/types/industrial.html on December 3, 2007.
Lamb, Annette and Johnson, Larry. (2001). The Topic: Robots. Retrieved from on December 3, 2007.
Robotic Industries Association. (2002). Robotics industry directory/2002-2003 edition. Ann Arbor, MI: Robotic Industries Association.
Shim, S. J. (1998). Market strategy in emerging high technology industries: Case of U.S. robotics firms in the 1980s. Technology Management: Strategies & Applications. 4(3), 187-193.
United Nations and International Federation of Robotics. (2001). World robotics 2001. Geneva, Switzerland: United Nations.
Womack, J. P., Jones, D. T., and Roos, D. (1990). The machine that changed the world. New York, NY: Rawson Associates.
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