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Robots set to 'take off' in manufacturing

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Advanced robots are set to revolutionise manufacturing and could boost productivity in some countries by 30 percent, a new study says.

The study by Boston Consulting Group says that the use of advanced industrial robots is nearing the point of takeoff and factories are now set to begin using automation at an increasing pace.

The change could power a new wave of productivity growth in many industries and lead to changes of up to 5 percentage points in the cost competitiveness of major export economies relative to the U.S.

The BCG study projects that investment in industrial robots will accelerate markedly over the next decade, from annual growth that now averages 2 to 3 percent to around 10 percent.

As a result, the total cost of manufacturing labour in 2025 could be 16 percent lower, on average, in the world’s 25 largest goods-exporting nations than they would be otherwise.

Depending on the industry and country, output per worker could rise by an estimated 10 to 30 percent over and above productivity gains that typically come from other measures.

The biggest gains in labor savings will occur in nations that are at the forefront of deploying industrial robots, such as South Korea, China, the U.S., Japan, and Germany.

Economies where robotics investment is projected to lag—and where low productivity growth is already a problem—are likely to see their manufacturing competitiveness deteriorate further over the next decade. Such nations include France, Italy, Belgium, and Brazil.

“As labor costs rise around the world, it is becoming increasingly critical that manufacturers rapidly take steps to improve their output per worker to stay competitive,” said Harold L. Sirkin, a BCG senior partner.

“Companies are finding that advances in robotics and other manufacturing technologies offer some of the best opportunities to sharply improve productivity.”

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