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What Manufacturing Slowdown?: Inside the Industrial Robotic Arms Race

New Year’s Day hangovers were still being nursed when analysts around the world, spotting declines in various industrial activity indexes, blew their noisemakers: The U.S.-China trade spat was causing a global manufacturing slowdown.

But it turns out there’s at least one corner of manufacturing that seems to be on the upswing, and on a pace, even amidst trade tensions, to experience a spurt during the next few years: industrial robotic arms.

Analysts at Framingham, Mass.-based technology industry research firm IDC recently forecast that the total market for robotics spending will reach nearly $120 billion in 2019, an 18% increase over last year’s spending.

By 2022, the size of the robotics market – robots, drones, and all related technology and services – will total $210 billion. Around half of that will be in manufacturing, said John Santagate, research director of commercial service robotics, IDC. “Slowdown?” Santagate replied during a phone interview Jan. 8. “What slowdown?”

Okay, maybe for certain industries, such as auto making, continued sluggishness could be coming down the line, he conceded. “But we expect to see demand for robotics overall to grow around 20% each year for the next 5 years,” Santagate said.

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