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Robots to 2018 - Quest study

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Market survey of the use of robots until 2018

Machine-builders using robots at ever more machines with differentiated engineering

There are the current robot users among the machine-builders who cause a dynamic growth of robots at the machines until 2018. At the same time the use of robots is taking place in a very differentiated manner. These are two substantial results of the market survey from Quest TechnoMarketing about the use of robots until 2018 in the German machinery industry.

With 47% currently almost each second machine-builder is using robots1 at the machines. 2018 there will be 51%.

Robot users will dynamically expand robots at the machines

Robot users show clearly higher growth expectations than machine-builders without any robots. The first ones are aiming to increase their machine production annually by 6.5%. Machine-builders without robots are looking for a growth of their machine production by 2% per year until 2018.

On the average all investigated machine-builders expect machine production to grow by 3.8% per year until 2018.

The robot users among the machine-builders are discovering ever further applications for robots expanding their use to ever more machines. So the number of machines with robots will increase by 46% until 2018 - a pronounced dynamic growth by yearly 13%.

Growth of the use of robots in the German machinery industry from 2015 to 2018.

The robot users’ actions will result in a growing share of their machines with robots from 17% to 21%, i.e. to a fifth.

This dynamic growth with machine-builders that already have experiences with robots, documents their satisfaction with the use of robots.

Using robots taking place through a strongly differentiated engineering

The use of robots does not take place like business as usual; in fact, the engineering of this use is much differentiated.

Machine-builders are realizing robots as so-called hardware in five different ways ranging from the complete in-house solution of the robot up to the complete purchased robot.  

The engineering of the robot application is differentiated into seven groups from in-house engineering of in-house solutions up to in-house and external engineering of mixed solutions.

Finally machine-builders prefer four different types to connect robot control and machine control.

The market survey has identified and quantified all these differentiations integrating them into those market or application segments that will determine the use of robots in the machinery industry until 2018. Beyond that the machine-builders’ aspects of benefit related to the different approaches are recorded.

From complete purchased robots up to complete in-house solutions

In regard to the realization of the robot the majority of the robot users prefer purchased robots in various gradations. In-house solutions of the robot, likewise in various gradations, implement 24% of the robot users combined with more than half of the entire robot potential. This approach will increase to 25% until 2018 while the using of purchased robots will weaken somewhat.

Majority of machine-builders prefers in-house engineering of the robot application

The in-house engineering of the robot applications is first class for the machine-builders. The share of the in-house engineering of the robot users will rise from 59% to 61% until 2018. The very large majority of the robot potential is operated through in-house engineering.

So these machine-builders push the door far open for suppliers of robot and automation technology to support this in-house engineering, ranging from complete in-house solutions up to complete purchased robots, to make it still more effective by tools and specific support.

Among the reasons of the machine-builders to make the engineering of purchased robots of their own there are know-how protection and flexibility opposite the customer.

  • „Know-how protection and core competency to take the best out of the robot like reduced cycle times and machine security. “(Robotics and automation)

  • „We provide all from one source avoiding to disclosure our technical know-how. “(Conveyer)

  • „Flexibility, in order to be able to react faster to customer's requests and additionally it is more economical to make the engineering in-house." (Building/glass/ceramic machines)

  • „In order to be able to react individually. “(Packaging machines)

Also regarding the engineering of in-house solutions, flexibility in relation to customer's requests and added value play an important role apart from other reasons.

  • „We make everything of our own, even the control system and the engineering for the customer. That brings maximal flexibility for the customer to operate with different lot sizes and formats. The customer may convert the machine and select variations of packaging from the packaging program. “(Packaging machines)

  • „A high extent of flexibility and customizations at our machines as individual solutions. “(Machine tools)

  • „In case of trouble we are able to support our customer instead of being depended from third parties, provided we have our own know-how. The customer is often changing the formats several times per day and our approach provides benefits for these changes. “(Food processing machines)

To the reasons not to implement robots until 2018

The 49% of the machine-builder, who do not want to implement robots until 2018, highlight good reasons.

The main part of these machine-builders does not see a functional starting point for robots at the machine. Be it that a continuous process does not need any robots or the processing is already fully automated without robots, be it that the machines are too specific or too compact for robots.

Finally machine-builder concede a functional starting point for robots, however, they prefer the current solution as a more favorable one.

  • „Missing precision and rigidity for large machine tools. “(Machine tools)

  • „We process foam materials being very unmanageable in regard to dimensions and weight. Conventional robots do not cover such applications yet. So cranes or other transport equipment are in use so far. “(Rubber/plastics machines)

  • „First we tested robots. However, we do need many more clocks, i.e. 40 clocks while the robots only achieved 20 clocks with 40 kg and 1 m range for product withdrawal.“ (Rubber/plastics machines)

Representative market survey

The market survey from Quest TechnoMarketing is representative since it is based on interviews with 36% of the machine-builders with 100 and more employees in the ten automation-relevant sectors of the German machinery industry, carried out in the first half of the year 2015.


1 The market survey determines robots according to the VDI specification 2860 as programmable motion automats with several axes equipped with grippers resp. tools for handling and manufacturing purposes.

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