COVID-19 slows down robotics and automation in German market

Industry body VDMA forecasts a drop in robotics and automation sales of at least 20% in 2020.

Forecasters from VDMA Robotics + Automation say that the pandemic will hit expenditure on automation within the German market to the tune of 20% this year.

Originally, a decline of minus 10 percent had been predicted.

"The current uncertainties do not allow for a precise forecast for the current year," says Wilfried Eberhardt, Chairman of VDMA Robotics + Automation. "However, the industry's turnover before the outbreak of the pandemic was better than initially assumed, as the annual statistics for 2019 show. Robotics and automation from Germany recorded the second-highest turnover to date, at 14.7 billion euros, with a slight decline of 2 percent compared to the previous year. Originally, a minus of five percent had been forecast."

In 2019 integrated assembly solutions recorded a 4% drop in sales to 8 billion euros. Sales in robotics fell only slightly by 2% to 4 billion euros. Machine vision, on the other hand, was able to grow slightly: Industry sales rose by 1% to 2.8 billion euros.

In contrast, they believe fundamental growth prospects of the industry are positive for the time after COVID-19.

"Digital services, which were already available before the Corona crisis, have suddenly become indispensable and put users and providers on a steep learning curve. This advances the smart factory and provides robotics and automation with an important long-term growth incentive," says Wilfried Eberhardt.

The VDMA emphasises in a press release that they believe that “the Corona crisis has highlighted how vulnerable industrial production has become in global value chains. The realisation that more resilience is required opens up new potentials for robotics and automation. Supply chains are being rethought and the manufacture of critical parts and products will be done more locally - and with an increased share of internally produced components. This can only be implemented economically with a higher degree of automation. New production technology is also needed for attaining higher levels of sustainability, carbon neutrality and alternative powertrains for future mobility. There are also considerable catch-up effects from previously postponed investments. All of these factors will fuel demand in robotics and automation in the post-Corona era and thus offer the industry excellent prospects for the future.”


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