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Robot army is transforming the global workplace

Armies of robots are spreading throughout factories and warehouses around the world, as the accelerating pace of automation transforms a widening range of industries. And it is not just in advanced countries but in emerging economies as well where machines are a growing force, with global sales of industrial robots increasing by 18 per cent to a record $13.1bn in 2016, according to research by the International Federation of Robotics, IFR. The rise of the robots has coincided with a surge in share prices of some of the biggest manufacturers in the sector, including the Japanese groups Fanuc and Yaskawa, Swiss engineering conglomerate ABB and Kuka of Germany. Shares in Yaskawa have more than doubled this

year, as have Kuka’s. Fanuc’s stock has gained 40 per cent and shares are up by almost one-sixth in ABB, which additionally supplies power, automation and electrical equipment. These groups are benefiting from mounting demand for sophisticated machines that no longer just weld car bodies and lift heavy loads, but also perform complex functions from electronic component production to putting chocolates into boxes.

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