Press release

Survey: How Robots Help German Industry

February 06, 2020
  • Shortage of 10 million workers by 2040
  • 77 percent of industrial companies dependent on robots

By 2040, the labor market in Germany will have a shortage ten million people compared to today due to demographic change. To compensate for the consequences, 77 percent of industrial decision-makers already rely on “colleague” robots. In addition to corporations, smaller companies are increasingly affected by this development. According to the forecast, 84 percent believe that the widespread use of robot technology in medium-sized enterprises is not a question of “whether” but of “when”. These are the findings of the automatica Trend Index 2020. A market research institute commissioned by the world's leading trade fair automatica surveyed a total of 100 specialists and executives in Germany who decide on robotics and automation in industrial companies.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, around a quarter of all employed people currently work in the industrial sector alone, i.e., approx. eleven million people. At the same time, approx. 216,000 industrial robots are currently in use in this sector. This puts Germany in fifth place worldwide according to the latest figures of the International Federation of Robotics. In terms of robot density, the automotive industry employs approx. 1,270 units per 10,000 employees and the manufacturing industry approx. 340 units.

“Against the backdrop of demographic change and the changing world of work, robotics and automation are making a very important contribution to securing global competitiveness and keeping people in employment for longer,” Patrick Schwarzkopf from VDMA Robotics and Automation stated. “Robots are excellent at taking on individual tasks. For example, employees in a team with the robot are relieved of dangerous, unhealthy and monotonous tasks. At the same time, the speed and precision of robots can significantly increase productivity. According to the survey, 77 percent of industry decision makers confirm that robots are already playing a key role in responding to labor shortages and driving automation forward.

The most important reasons for using robots

According to approx. 80 percent of the experts in industrial companies, the most important reasons to produce with robots in the future will be:

  • Relieving workers of heavy lifting work
  • Handling hazardous materials
  • Taking over monotonous work

At the same time, 81 percent report that programming robots has tended to become easier, paving the way for use in medium-sized enterprises.

“From June 16 to 19, automatica in Munich will show how robotics and automation will help to keep industry competitive. The trade fair provides an overview of all relevant solutions and products to increase automated production and also combines all future-oriented key technologies under one roof,” Falk Senger, Managing Director of Messe München, said.

automatica Trend Index 2020

The automatica trend index was carried out by a market research institute and consists of two partial surveys:

For Part-1, a total of 100 specialists and managers in Germany were surveyed who decide on robotics and automation in industrial companies. The participants work in mechanical and plant engineering (37 percent), the automotive industry (22 percent), the electrical industry (14 percent), the food industry (9 percent) and other industrial sectors (18 percent).

For Part-2, a total of 7,000 participants were asked in a population-representative manner how robots and digitization are changing the world of work: USA (N = 1,000), China (N = 1,000), Japan (N = 1,000), Germany (N = 1,000), France (N = 1,000), Italy (N = 1,000) and Great Britain (N = 1,000).

Source: Institute for the History and Future of Work

The potential number of employees in Germany will shrink by 10 million people over the next 20 years as a result of the retirement of baby boomers and the number of people born in periods when the birth rate was low. There is a threat of a worker shortage. IGZA: Germany 2040—Ten theses on labor market and pensions, demography and digitalization:

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Bernhard Krause
Bernhard Krause
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