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The use of robots is expanding beyond just the factory floor. Robots today can be found in many different fields, like healthcare, logistics, defense, homecare and even emergency response. A report by the International Federation of Robots (IFR) expects the global sales of industrial robots to increase by more than 15 percent annually over the next three years. In 2015, there were more than 225,000 industrial robots sold. The growth in the use of robots in the automotive industry and by small and medium-sized manufacturers reached nearly 20 percent.
Arturo Baroncelli, president of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), said that “the main driver of this development is the global competition of industrial production.”
In 2015, China saw the largest growth in the use of robotics. Per Vegard Nerseth, managing director at ABB Robotics, said that “the automation of China’s production plants has just started. As the first foreign robot manufacturer to arrive here, we have observed the market and developments for years now. We have witnessed swift, almost explosive growth over the last two or three years, surpassing even our expectations.”
Zhao Dong, a manager at Heilongjing Norson Tech Automation Equipment Development Company, said that “China could not always rely on its human resources and forever be a manufacturing country. Robots simply provide better quality compared to humans and are cheaper and easier to manage. This is a social issue. New technology always brings new social issues and we need to adjust our social structure to account for automation. Those people whose jobs are taken away by robots could either innovate these traditional jobs or do robot management and maintenance.”
Jeff Burnstein, President of the Robotics Industry Association (RIA), said that “today there are more opportunities than ever before in the robotics industry. The continuing growth in robotics is opening many new job opportunities for people who can program, install, run, and maintain robots. In fact, if you look closer at the jobs discussion, automation is helping to save and create jobs. A lot of companies tell us they wouldn’t be in business without robotics and related automation.”