Rise of the Robots in Italy

Italian production rebounded to 2,781 robots and reached 490 million euros to meet increases in domestic robotic consumption and export demands last year.

During the press conference organized by UCIMU-SISTEMI PER PRODURRE (Bologna, Italy), the association of manufacturers of machine tools, robots, and automation systems, and SIRI, the Italian association of robotics and automation, a presentation took place reporting the final 2013 data for the Italian robotic sector.

During the meeting, organized as part of LAMIERA, the exhibition event dedicated to metal forming technology machine tools that ran in Bologna through Saturday May 17th, there were presentations from Rezia Molfino, the president of SIRI, Domenico Appendino, the vice-president of SIRI and PRIMA INDUSTRIE, and Stefania Pigozzi, in charge of the Studies Dept. of UCIMU-SISTEMI PER PRODURRE.

From the analysis of the data processed by the Studies Dept. of UCIMU-SISTEMI PER PRODURRE, it appears that, after the recession recorded in 2012, the Italian robotic sector has started to grow again. In fact, in 2013 the Italian production of robots reached 490 million euros, 5.2 percent more than in 2012. The result was driven both by positive results in exports, which grew by 8.3 percent, to 195 millions, and by the delivery performance on the domestic market, which grew by 3.1 percent, to 295 millions.

Also the Italian consumption shows positive signs, plus 4.9 percent, for a value of 515 million euros. The export to production ratio increased, from 38.6 percent in 2012, to 39.8 percent in 2013.

In terms of units, in 2013 the Italian companies of the sector produced 2,781 robots. Of these, about half were destined for foreign markets. Domestic consumption, which amounted to 4,679 robots, was met for 72.8 percent by imports.

As for the previous years, also in 2013 in Italy the main areas of applications for robots were material handling and welding, which represented, in terms of units, 68.3 percent and 17 percent of the total consumption respectively.

Material handling includes all those functions connected with forming, die casting, handling of parts, measurement and control; on the other hand, welding is mainly connected with the activity of joining metal parts, and relates mainly to the automotive sector.

Of interest the analysis of the distribution by type of robot. Particularly popular are articulated robots capable of carrying out complex operations, thanks to the flexibility of movement ensured by the arms, which operate as anthropomorphic tools.

In 2013 Italy produced 1,935 articulated robots, used for welding and painting applications.  Second in terms of production were Cartesian robots (612 units), used in pick and place processes, for handling pieces.

Following the survey carried out by the Studies Dept. of UCIMU-SISTEMI PER PRODURRE, the total number of robots installed in Italy in 2013 was 94,790.

Lombardy and Piedmont house, each, more than 30 percent of the companies of the sector. In the comparison between the two regions as far as production units, Piedmont is well ahead of Lombardy for contribution to the turnover of the sector, with 64 percent of the total (against 6.3 percent of Lombardy, who is also behind Emilia Romagna, with 23.8 percent).