Worldwide spending on robotics forecast to accelerate over the next five years, reaching $230.7 billion in 2021, according to new IDC spending guide


Jul 12, 2017

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., July 12, 2017 – A new update to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Semiannual Commercial Robotics Spending Guide forecasts worldwide purchases of robotics, including drones and robotics-related hardware, software and services, will total $97.2 billion in 2017, an increase of 17.9% over 2016. IDC expects robotics spending to accelerate over the five-year forecast period, reaching $230.7 billion in 2021 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.8%.

"The convergence of robotics and artificial intelligence & machine learning are driving the development of the next generation of intelligent robots for industrial, commercial, and consumer applications," said Dr. Jing Bing Zhang, research director, Robotics at IDC Manufacturing Insights. "Robots with innovative capabilities such as ease of use, self-diagnosis, zero downtime, learning and adaptation, and cognitive interaction are emerging and driving wider adoption of robotics in the manufacturing and resource industries and enabling new uses in healthcare, insurance, education, and retail."

The Discrete Manufacturing and Process Manufacturing industries will continue to be the largest purchasers of robotics products and services with 2017 spending totals of $30.5 billion and $24.1 billion, respectively. Combined, these two industries will account for more than half of all robotics spending throughout the forecast. The Resource industries, which include mining, oil & gas extraction, and agriculture, will be the third largest robotics market in 2017 with global spending of nearly $9.0 billion. The industries that will see the fastest spending growth over the 2016-2021 forecast period are Education (71.9% CAGR), Retail (51.3% CAGR), Construction (38.3% CAGR), Wholesale (37.2% CAGR), and Insurance (36.3% CAGR).

"We continue to see strong demand for robotics across a wide range of industries," said John Santagate, research manager, Supply Chain at IDC Manufacturing Insights. "Technology advancements in mobile robots and collaborative robots are opening up opportunities to deploy robots in new areas outside of the more traditional industrial manufacturing processes. While technology improvements are helping to fuel demand, the increased demand is incentivizing innovators in the field to invest in delivering robots that are capable of performing a wider range of tasks."

The use cases that will capture the largest share of robotics spending are driven by their respective industries. As the primary use case in the Discrete Manufacturing industry, assembly, welding and painting is forecast to receive nearly a quarter of all robotics spending worldwide throughout the forecast. Similarly, the primary use case in the Process Manufacturing industry (mixing) will capture more than 15% of all robotics spending. Other robotics use cases that will drive spending include automated production – mining and pick and pack (Wholesale). The use cases that will see the fastest growth in robotics spending over the forecast period include break bulk (71.6% CAGR), educational assistance (68.3% CAGR), and delivery to customer (60.6% CAGR).

More than half of all robotics spending this year ($50.7 billion) and throughout the forecast will go to robotics systems, after-market robotics hardware, and systems hardware. Services-related spending, which encompasses applications management, education & training, hardware deployment, systems integration, and consulting, will total more than $24 billion in 2017 while spending on command and control, specific robotics applications, and network infrastructure software will reach $15.2 billion. Purchases of drones and after-market drone hardware will be nearly $7.0 billion this year and represent the two fastest growing categories of robotics spending throughout the forecast, followed by education and training.

On a geographic basis, the Asia/Pacific region (excluding Japan)(APeJ) will account for more than half of all robotics spending in 2017 ($51.5 billion) and throughout the forecast. Japan will be the second-largest region in 2017 ($14.3 billion), followed by the United States and Western Europe ($13.6 billion and $10.1 billion, respectively). By the end of the forecast, however, the United States is forecast to move into the second position. All four regions will be led by strong robotics spending by the discrete and process manufacturing industries. The regions that will see the fastest growth over the five-year forecast are Latin America (26.5% CAGR), APeJ (25.2% CAGR), and the United States (24.1% CAGR).

The Worldwide Semiannual Commercial Robotics Spending Guide quantifies the robotics opportunity from a region, industry, use case, and technology perspective. Spending data is available for more than 52 use cases across more than 13 key industries in eight regions. Data is also available for a wide range of robotics hardware, software, and services categories. Unlike any other research in the industry, the detailed segmentation and timely, global data is designed to help suppliers targeting the market to identify market opportunities and execute an effective strategy.

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