Robotics boom creates components shortage

A global surge in robotics manufacturing has created a shortage of common industrial components required for other industries, according to suppliers, bearings manufacturer SMB has warned.

“The worldwide increase in robotics production is fantastic, but demand for components is having a knock-on effect on other industries,” said managing director Chris Johnson.

“Consider medical equipment manufacturing as an example. The sector relies on the use of thin section ball bearings in applications where space is at a premium and weight reduction is required. However, these types of bearings are commonly used for the rotary joints of industrial robots and therefore, the demand is high.”

According to figures published by the International Federation of Robotics, worldwide investment in automation is on the rise. Since 2010, the demand for industrial robots has accelerated considerably. In fact, between 2011 and 2016, worldwide robot sales increased by 12 per cent per year, amounting to a record-breaking number of robot installations during this period.

“At SMB, we have taken measures to address this problem by increasing the racking in our warehouse and changing our methods of stockholding for bearings associated with the robotics industry. By doing so, we can ensure customers from the medical equipment, aerospace, instrumentation and optical equipment markets are not left without the bearings they require for manufacturing.”

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