Robotics manufacturer Motoman Inc., a Yaskawa company, celebrated its 15th anniversary on Oct. 21 at its West Carrollton, Ohio, headquarters. Motoman President Craig Jennings, speaking to an array of customers, media and Yaskawa executives, kicked off the event with an optimistic look at the state of the industry. Robot industry sales took a big drop in 2000 and 2001, but rebounded in 2003. Motoman recorded 35 percent growth in 2003 and Jennings expects strong growth again this year.
The overall North American robotic market has rebounded, and is expected by some to reach nearly $1 billion in total sales in 2004 according to Jennings. In terms of market segmentation, material handling is now the highest in sales, followed by arc welding then spot welding applications. Interestingly, product service and training revenues actually are higher than arc welding product sales.
Jennings expects future growth to come from the material handling and service segments. He projects high growth industries for robotics to be plastics, life sciences, pharmaceutical and medical. Another growth area is in service robotics—including hazardous duty, defense, entertainment, pharmaceutical dispensing, surgery and medical treatments. In the retail food and beverage services segment, in fact, Motoman recently introduced RoboBar, a dual-arm robot designed to serve beverages. A RoboBar served drinks during lunch at the anniversary event.
Future technologies impacting robotics, according to Jennings, include application specific robotics, new and crossover manipulators (e.g. articulated SCARA robots), 3D vision, multiple robot control, personal computer-based robot control, wireless information management and Web-based commerce and support.
Motoman touted its NX100 robotic controller, said to be the first to coordinate multiple control of up to four robots from one controller. Guests toured the demo room and saw demonstrations of multiple robotic applications and the company’s advanced arc welding application specific robot.