COLLABORATIVE AUTOMATION
SME Magazine Singapore|Issue 39, 2021
As the Covid-19 outbreak has caused a major shake-up across the economy, countries in the region are now seeking solutions to safeguard their employees while maintaining business continuity. Among the key issues are the reduction of the reliance on migrant labour.
DAFIZECK DAUD

It is a well-known fact that many jobs in manufacturing, assembling and processing sectors involve dull, dirty and dangerous work and companies rely on foreign labour for these tasks. In light of the pandemic, they should ideally consider automation utilising collaborative robots or cobots, to overcome these situational issues and ensure continuity.

Collaborative automation is setting a trend for people to ascend to more interesting jobs. With the implementation of the system, humans can become expert cobot operators. Workers can now assign their ‘co-workers’ -- the cobots -- with the repetitive tasks, while they spend more time developing strategies and finding solutions for business challenges with their creative, problem-solving skills.

Unlike traditional industrial robots, cobots are designed to work alongside humans, giving businesses the benefits of a combined workforce. These changes eventually could lead to greater job satisfaction and career advancement.

A report by the World Robotics 2020 Industrial Report shows a record of 2.7 million industrial robots operating in factories globally, with 373,000 units shipped in 2019.

Amongst industrial robots, cobots continue to be the fastest-growing segment of industrial automation, projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 41.8% globally from 2020 to 2026, a report by Markets&Markets showed.

The Asia Pacific cobot market is projected to become the largest cobot market worldwide, growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.46 percent, with an addressable cumulative market value of $13.17 billion over the next seven years in terms of cobot hardware.

The growth of collaborative robots is fuelled mainly by the advantages it offers; effective employee utilisation, higher productivity and flexibility in redeployment. One of the most significant differences between industrial robots and cobots is the ability of cobots to interact safely with humans in a shared workspace.

GAINING TRACTION IN THE REGION

The usage of cobot in the region is seeing robust growth in recent years. Singapore, for instance, currently has the highest density of industrial robots with 918 industrial robots used per 10,000 employees. In the city state, top installations of industrial robots are found in the electrical and electronics industry, followed by rubber and plastics, metal and machinery, food, and others in no specific order of installation numbers.

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