Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Japanese robotic market in 2006 and forecast for 2010
Article Type: News From: Industrial Robot: An International Journal, Volume 35, Issue 4
An independent market research firm, Fuji-Keizai, published a market report on Japanese robot industry, Robot Market 2007: Current Status and Future Forecast, based on its own market survey by in interviewing with 100 robotics-related companies for 44 product items. The report classifies the robot market into three categories, industrial robots, service/personal robots and, separated from industrial robots, electronic parts placement machines that are included in industrial robots in the Japan Robot Association (JARA) statistics. The Fuji Keizai industrial robots do include single ax actuators which is often not regarded as a part of industrial robots.
Table I is a summary of the report.
413.7 billion yen for 2006 and 606.8 billion yen for 2010 (domestic and export shipping)
In 2006, because of reduced capital investment in automotive and liquid crystal industry, welding robots, painting robots and LCD display panels handling robot business were struggling. However, assembling robots, smaller handling robots and single ax actuators continued to grow which contributed to boost up the total sales. Area-wise, Japan is still the biggest market followed by Asia, North America and Europe in this order.
In the past, assembling and handling small parts were mainly done by human workers. However, now-a-days availability of lower priced robots on one hand and advanced robot vision system on the other, robots are rapidly replacing human labor. In addition, recovery of investment in automotive and electronic industry will help. The market segment is the most rapidly growing one in the industrial robots market.
In automotive industry, the major applications have been found in car-body related process, such as spot-welding, arc-welding and painting. However, new applications, related to assembling process, are emerging. More and more assembling robots have been introduced into the car assembling lines.
In electric and electronic industry, single ax actuators are integrated in production equipments.
Semiconductor wafer and LCD panel handling
Wafer handling robots are widely used as a part of semiconductor manufacturing equipments. With ever-increasing demand of semiconductors, steady growth in semiconductor wafer handling robots are expected.
As for LCD and plasma display panel industry, there has been concern since 2006 about the future of ever-heated up competition. Some of the big projects were suddenly postponed. It is unpredictable for the future of LCD and plasma display panel handling robots.
2.0 billion yen for 2006 and 6.5 billion yen for 2010 (320 per cent growth)
The market size was as small as only 2.0 billion yen in 2006. However, in 2007, there is a sign of the emergence of a business in power-assist robots and rescue robots. Service robots for social use, such as sweeper robots and security robots, are already in use. Many R&D projects are now going on targeting at a viable business beyond 2010. It is predicted that the business will be picking up around 2015. In 2010, the market will reach 6.5 billion yen.
The emerging market
The report predicts that dual arm robots, smaller vertically articulated robots and power-assist suits are the most rapidly growing market segments in the robot industry.
Dual arm robots
3.6 billion yen in 2006 and 49.0 billion yen for 2010
Robots having two arms and manipulating robots having seven-axis or more joints fall in this category. Because of the growing needs to replace human work the dual arm robot is attracting huge interest from human-work centered industry. In 2006, the objectives of the purchase was just evaluation purpose, but real implementation into the factory floor will start in 2007. Yaskawa is the front runner of the market. Adoption of a major car manufacturer, for instance Toyota, will play a key role to trigger the market. Then, there will be a big market in other industries, too.
Smaller vertically articulated robots in industrial robot area
22.6 billion yen in 2006 and 38.7 billion yen for 2010
This robot is a vertically articulated robot with payload of around 3-20 kg and used for part assembling or transportation. The specific objects are automotive parts, mobile phones and personal computers. Since the manufacturing process has been less automated, there remains a big room for future growth. Until now, the demand comes mostly from inside Japan.
Mitsubishi Electric is the front runner of this business followed by Denso wave, Fanuc, Staubli (Germany), etc. Apparently, many other companies will be coming into the new business.
Power-assist suit (service/personal robot area)
Zero billion yen in 2006 and 3.0 billion yen for 2010 domestic market only
A power-assist suit helps a human wearer in giving additional force to ease human movements by means of electric actuators or artificial muscle. CyberDyne Corp., a spin-off venture from Tsukuba University, and ActiveLink Ltd, a Matsusita group company, have already commercialized these robots. The market will start picking up between the latter part of 2007 and the middle of 2008. Expectation is high both for labor saving and also from elder/handicapped people care-giving purpose.
Source: Yoshihiro Kusuda.