OEM Proprietary Robot Controllers VS. PLC-Based Robot Controllers

Automotive industry drives demand for industrial robots and controllers… But for how long?

Industrial robotics are now a staple to the automotive manufacturing industry, and are quickly growing in use in the medical, aerospace and electronics industries.

With the surge of robots installed on factory floors, the robot controllers market is also seeing a boom.

A recent report from Technavio is projecting a combined annual growth rate of seven percent for the global robot controllers market by 2020. The market’s growth is largely driven by the automotive sector’s demand for OEM proprietary robot controllers designed for point-to-point repetitive process-intensive applications, for example.

“Vendors are developing robot controllers merged with Advanced RISC Machine (ARM) processors that enable superior performance, such as vision capabilities and precise motor control,” said Bharath Kanniappan, lead robotics research analyst at Technavio.

“Advancements in technology are helping designers to build robot controllers that incorporate new functionalities and capabilities.”

This is no under-estimation, as new OEM proprietary robot controllers can support input/output (I/O) processing functionality, eliminating the need for PLC programming to control I/O processing.

Thus, OEM proprietary robot controllers accounted for 88.73 percent of the robot controller market share for 2015, leaving only 11.27 percent of the pie to PLC-based robot controllers.

However, this is not a case of one technology defeating the other.

PLC-based robot controllers are of greater benefit than their OEM counterparts for other machine applications and robot systems involving multiple device integrations or peripheral machines.

Robots with PLC-based controllers are best suited for pallet-dispensers, de-stackers, shrink wrappers and applications requiring multiple robots within a single cell.

PLC-based robot controllers are often designed to control multiple processes that require large amounts of serial or ASCII data to be crunched, or for high-level arithmetic functions, and had a market valued at USD$102.9 million in 2015.

Technavio expects the market for PLC-based robot controllers alone to reach $151.1 million by 2020 and grow at a CAGR of eight.

It could be speculated that as the industrial robotics market enters its next boom, the automotive industry might begin to ease its definitive hold on the market share.

Vendors highlighted in Technavio’s report, Global Robot Controllers Market 2016-2020, include ABB, FANUC, KUKA and Yaskawa Electric.

“These vendors together had a market share of 25 to 30 percent in 2015,” Bharath said.

Technavio’s report also analyzes emerging trends, the market in terms of revenue and analysis and forecasts for market segments and geographical regions.

For more information or to read the report yourself, visit the Technavio website.