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Developing and promoting the use of industrial robots and automation.

An introduction to industrial robots: Revolutionising modern manufacturing.

Offering a range of benefits including improved productivity and efficiency, industrial robots are playing an increasingly vital role within the manufacturing sector. Able to perform a variety of tasks with the greatest intricacy, such automated systems are of value to a range of industries. As you explore the world of industrial robotics, it’s essential that you understand the main aspects of their design and implementation.

At the time of writing there are over 3 million industrial robots in operation worldwide. This represents a 10% increase on the previous year. Such growth reflects the value of such robots, as they streamline and optimise a variety of work processes. Their versatility is shown in the handling of differently shaped and weighted objects. Making the most of this versatility, you can boost productivity and gain a competitive edge with industrial robots.

For greater understanding it’s worth exploring the leading industrial robot companies and their offerings. This will help you identify the best robotic system for your needs, so that you can move seamlessly towards a more advanced and automated operation. You can look forward to achieving new heights of efficiency and performance.

What is an industrial robot?

An industrial robot is primarily used for manufacturing processes. As vital elements within the automated system, these robots are programmable and capable of movement on three or more axes. This flexibility allows you to streamline your production line and improve overall efficiency.

You might be aware that industrial robots are often used as an alternative to humans for the completion of repetitive or dangerous tasks. The key advantage of using these machines is their impeccable precision and accuracy. Reducing the margin for error in the completion of set processes, industrial robots vary in design. However, it’s particularly common to find robotic arms operating on multiple axes.

Typical tasks performed by industrial robots include:

  • Picking and placing objects
  • Assembling components
  • Welding and soldering
  • Painting and finishing
  • Cutting and grinding

Industrial robots are defined by the Robot Institute of America as programmable multifunction operators for handling mechanical parts or work items. They can also be considered special mechanical devices able to perform a variety of tasks based on different programs.

These factors should be considered when integrating industrial robots into manufacturing processes:

  • Application: Identify the specific tasks you want the robot to perform and choose a suitable model.
  • Payload: Ensure the robot can handle the weight and size of the objects or components that it will be manipulating.
  • Speed and precision: Consider whether the robot can meet your production speed requirements while maintaining an acceptable level of precision.
  • Ease of programming: Look for a robot that is easy to program and reprogram according to your changing needs.
  • Safety: Assess the safety features of the robot, including collision detection and emergency stop functions.

In summary, industrial robots are advanced technological tools that can significantly enhance your manufacturing capabilities. The use of such machines is bound to result in greater productivity, improved reliability, and significantly reduced production costs. Adopting an industrial robot into your workflow can be a game-changing decision, helping you stay competitive in the rapidly evolving manufacturing landscape.

Types of industrial robots.

In this section, we will explore the variety of industrial robots that are used across a range of industries. Each type has its own unique features and applications.

Articulated robots

Articulated robots are the most common type and resemble a human arm, which is why they are also known as robotic arms or manipulator arms. These robots typically have multiple joints or axes, allowing them a wide range of motion. They are often used in tasks such as welding, assembly, and painting.

Key features of articulated robots include:

  • Multiple axes of rotation
  • Large working envelope
  • High payload capacity

SCARA robots

SCARA robots, or Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arms, have a smaller workspace compared to articulated robots. These robots are particularly suitable for tasks such as assembly and pick-and-place operations, where high-speed and precision are required.

Characteristics of SCARA robots include:

  • Fast cycle times
  • Compact design
  • High repeatability

Delta robots

Delta robots are parallel architecture robots, known for their exceptional speed and precision. They usually have three arms and are mounted overhead, making them ideal for high-speed picking and packaging applications.

Delta robots have the following qualities:

  • Exceptional speed
  • Highly precise motion
  • Low payload capacity

Cartesian coordinate robots

Also known as gantry robots, cartesian coordinate robots perform linear movements along the x, y, and z axes. They form a cuboidal working area/envelope, and their simple design makes them suitable for tasks such as milling, drilling, and 3D printing.

These qualities are common to cartesian coordinate robots:

  • High accuracy
  • Simple and modular design
  • Large workspace

Spherical coordinate robots

Spherical coordinate robots (also known as polar robots) navigate with a spherical working envelope. They are usually used for tasks like injection moulding, painting, arc welding, and spot welding.

Spherical coordinate robots have these benefits:

  • Long reach with a suitably sized linear arm
  • Good coverage of the workspace
  • High precision

Cylindrical coordinate robots

Cylindrical coordinate robots have a cylindrical workspace, made up of linear and rotary axes. These robots are suitable for tasks such as assembly, pick-and-place, and loading/unloading operations.

Key characteristics of cylindrical coordinate robots include:

  • Simple mechanical design
  • Limited reach compared to other robots
  • Moderate accuracy

Serial manipulators

Serial manipulators are robots with a series of links connected by joints, allowing for a wide range of motions. They are often used in tasks such as assembly, handling, and manipulation of objects.

Common features of serial manipulators include:

  • High versatility
  • Wide range of motion
  • Complex control systems

Parallel architecture

Parallel architecture refers to robots with multiple links connected to the same base and end effector. This design makes for increased rigidity, accuracy, and speed when compared with serial manipulators. Some applications of parallel architecture include high-speed assembly and handling as well as flight simulation.

Parallel architecture robots have these qualities:

  • High rigidity
  • Increased accuracy and speed
  • Limited workspace

Industries utilising industrial robots.

Food and beverage industry

Industrial robots are revolutionising production lines across the food and beverage industry. Typically used for tasks such as packaging and palletisation, such automated systems allow for greater efficiency, precision and process speed. The hygienic capabilities and adaptability of industrial robots means that they are suited to a range of food and beverage industry tasks. It’s common to find such robots employed in activities such as food processing, assembly, and inspection.

Automotive sector

The automotive sector has been a major user of industrial robots for many years. Robots are widely used across various stages of automotive manufacturing, from welding and painting to assembly and quality control. In countries like the United States, UK, Japan, and Europe, industrial robots have significantly improved quality and safety standards. International automakers continue to use robots for various tasks, making for greater competitiveness and efficiency.

Electronics industry

Industrial robots have been widely adopted across the international electronics sector. With the consistent growth in demand for consumer electronics, manufacturers have turned to automation to increase throughput and productivity. Industrial robots have been used for such tasks as assembly, pick and place for printed circuit boards, and testing. They have enabled major electronics manufacturing companies in China and North America to meet various consumer demands.

Healthcare industry

The benefits of industrial robots have also been realised in the healthcare industry during recent years. From laboratory automation to pharmaceutical production, these robotic systems are playing a vital role in enhancing medical services. Patient care and safety have been improved through the use of robots for tasks such as surgery, diagnostics, and rehabilitation. Additionally, industrial robots are now taking on packaging, labelling, and inspection roles in the manufacture of medical devices and consumables.

Packaging and palletisation

Packaging and palletisation is another significant application for industrial robots. Industries like food and beverage, consumer goods, and logistics rely on these automated systems to streamline their packaging processes. Utilising industrial robots in packaging operations ensures high levels of accuracy, consistency, and efficiency. This helps businesses in the UK, Europe, Japan, and the United States to reduce waste and optimise supply chain management.

Software and technologies in industrial robots.

Artificial intelligence in robotics

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into industrial robotic systems allows for improvements of efficiency and flexibility across a range of applications. To stay competitive, large and small companies need to establish themselves as early adopters of AI-powered software solutions in the robotics sector. Such integration allows for the optimisation of processes, adaptation to changes, and performance of tasks with minimal human intervention.

Machine vision

Machine vision is vital to industrial robots as it allows for navigation, object identification, and informed decision making. Combining powerful hardware and sophisticated software, machine vision enables your robots to perform tasks with high precision and accuracy.

Sensors and detection systems

Equipping your industrial robots with various sensors and detection systems helps improve their situational awareness and responsiveness.

Examples include:

  • Force sensors: providing your robots with a sense of touch, so that they can apply the necessary force for delicate operations.
  • Proximity sensors: enhancing your robots' awareness of nearby objects or obstacles, particularly in congested environments.
  • Encoders: measuring your robot's joint positions, thereby refining their movements and increasing accuracy.

Teaching and learning modules

The arrangement of teaching and learning modules allows for the simplification of programming processes and fine-tuning of industrial robots. Such modules give workers the ability to instruct robots on a variety of specific tasks, without the need for extensive programming knowledge.

The integration of advanced software and technologies enables industrial robots to tackle complex applications with high levels of efficiency, precision, and adaptability. Investment in AI, machine vision, sensors, and teaching and learning modules will mean that your robots become indispensable in the realisation of production goals.

Global market and trends for industrial robots.

International federation of robotics

Accounting for 71% of all newly deployed robots in 2020, Asia remains the world's largest market for industrial robots according to the International Federation of Robotics. Installations for the region's largest adopter, China, grew strongly by 20%, with 168,400 units shipped. This was a record high for a single country.


The growth of the industrial robotics sector will be supported by the investment of organisations and associations. The British Automation and Robot Association (BARA) aim to encourage such investment by promoting the value of automation and robotics to the British manufacturing industry. You should consider the support and services offered by BARA as you continue to explore the industrial robotics sector.

Market trends for industrial robots

The industrial robot market was valued at £11.30 billion (USD 15.60 billion) in 2021. It’s projected to keep growing at a rapid rate, from £12.15 billion (USD 16.78 billion) in 2022 to £25.83 billion (USD 35.68 billion) by 2029, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.4% during this period.

Market trends shaping the global industrial robotics industry include:

  • Smart production: this refers to the use of digital technologies, automation, and robotics for enhanced factory production, efficiency and flexibility. The International Federation of Robotics states that annual installations of industrial robots more than tripled within ten years (2010-2019), reaching 381,000 units in factories around the world.
  • Collaborative robots (cobots): Cobots are designed to work alongside humans in a shared workspace. Rather than replacing human workers, cobots help with tasks that require precision, strength, or endurance. They can have a positive impact on productivity and working conditions.
  • Increasing customisation and flexibility: Customer demands for increased personalisation and shorter product lifecycles have resulted in a need for more production process flexibility. Industrial robots can help manufacturers adjust their production lines quickly and efficiently, allowing them to cater to evolving market demands more effectively.

Advantages of industrial robots.

Increased productivity is one of the key advantages when it comes to integrating industrial robots within your manufacturing process. Able to maintain a high standard without the need for breaks or days off, industrial robots can significantly improve process efficiency. Moreover, the use of robots leads to a 10% increase in production output, 11% in capacity usage, and 12% in labour productivity.

Cost reduction is another major benefit. The automation of repetitive and labour-intensive tasks makes for labour cost savings and the reduced risk of workplace injuries. Industrial robots are also relatively energy-efficient and require less maintenance when compared with manual labour. Such benefits are also associated with financial savings.

Finally, the production line integration of industrial robot ensures the improved quality of products. Robots are known for their precision and accuracy, reducing the likelihood of errors and ensuring a consistent output. This translates into lower defect rates and higher customer satisfaction.

In conclusion, the adoption of industrial robots is associated with significant benefits in terms of productivity, cost reduction, and product quality. While the initial investment might be high, the long-term returns and overall efficiency improvements make it worthwhile.

Challenges of industrial robotics.

There are a number of challenges that may be faced in the adoption of industrial robots. This section will highlight some of the main concerns that should be considered while pursuing automation: safety concerns, high initial investment, and lack of skilled workers.

Safety concerns

Your primary concern should always be the safety of your workforce. While industrial robots are powerful and precise, they can pose potential risks to human operators. Establishing new safety protocols is essential to ensure smooth collaboration with human employees. You should also consider investing in advanced safety systems and proper training to minimise accidents.

High initial investment

Industrial robot systems can be expensive. Besides the costs of initial investment, there are also expenses associated with integration and system setup. Indeed, a study has shown that the cost of the robot typically represents a small part of the total investment, with integration typically being much more expensive.  You must carefully assess and make financial projections to determine whether such an investment is feasible for your company.

Lack of skilled workers

The shortage of qualified workers is one of the major challenges when it comes to the development of the industrial robotics sector. Your workers might have to expand their skillsets if they are to adapt to the changing manufacturing environment. There must be investment in training if your employees are to  gain the necessary knowledge and expertise to work with robotics technology. It is also important to create a culture that embraces innovation and lifelong learning.

To summarise, you must be prepared to address safety concerns high initial investment, and a lack of skilled workers as you venture into industrial robotics. In acknowledging these challenges and proactively seeking solutions, you will increase your chances of success in the integration of robotics.

Find out how industrial robots can help your business with BARA.

Industrial robots are becoming increasingly important to most businesses and their workflow. You can learn the various ways that robots could help your business with BARA. Our Machinery Finder will help you find reputable robotic suppliers, so that you can enjoy the benefits of the most suitable technology.

Whether you need a robot to fix production issues or speed up processes, BARA is here to help you make the transition from traditional business methods to a more automated approach. Don’t wait any longer; find out how industrial robots can improve your business with the help of BARA. Start by exploring our Machinery Finder and collaborating with reliable robotics suppliers now!