Just like its distant robotic cousin the Roomba, and soon-to-be-unveiled humanoid robot Optimus, the industrial robot is designed to do things humans don’t really want to do — only on a much larger scale.

With millions of industrial robots now handling tedious, repetitive tasks on factory floors (like stacking pallets, welding, soldering and polishing), production capacity across a wide range of industries, from automotive to electronics, has been able to expand, helping meet consumer demand despite an increasingly tight labor market marked by rising labor costs.

Top Industrial Robot Companies

  • ABB
  • Comau
  • Denso Robotics
  • Fanuc
  • Kuka
  • Mitsubishi
  • Omron
  • Stäubli 
  • Universal
  • Yaskawa

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What Is an Industrial Robot?

An industrial robot is typically a robotic arm — operating on three or more axes — that can be programmed to take over easy but boring tasks like picking up an object and placing it somewhere else. Capable of moving in different directions, these robotic arms can take on more complex jobs like polishing and deburring, as well as work in the sterile environments required by the semiconductor and biotech industries. Manufacturers and other customers in the market for industrial robots often focus on specifications related to payload — the weight of an object an industrial robot can pick up — and reach — how far the robot can extend its arm.


Industrial Robot Types

There are a number of different industrial robot types, according to the International Federation of Robotics, a non-profit organization that tracks trends in the robotics industry. They include:

  • Articulated industrial robots, which have three or more joints and are typically used in welding, painting and machine-handling applications.
  • SCARA, which stands for selected compliance articulated robot arm. These industrial robots have two rotary joints and are often used for high-speed assembly and pick-and-place applications.
  • Cartesian or linear industrial robots are typically used with computer numerical control (or CNC) machines, which cut material like metal and wood, and pick-and-place applications. These robots have three prismatic joints with axes that correspond with a cartesian coordinate system.
  • Parallel industrial robots, which are also known as delta robots, have arms with concurrent prismatic or rotary joints. They are most often used for pick-and-place applications.


Industrial Robot Industries and Applications

According to a 2021 report from the International Federation of Robotics, more than 3 million industrial robots were in operation globally in 2020, an increase of 10 percent from the previous year. The top two growth sectors, the electronics and automotive industries, drove much of this growth, with just five countries — China, Japan, the United States, Korea and Germany — making up nearly three quarters of installations in 2020.

Besides automotive and electronics, industrial robots are used in the pharmaceutical, food and beverage, rubber and plastics, metals and machinery, construction and defense industries. Common applications include pick and place, welding, soldering, assembly, cutting, painting, palletizing (or stacking items on a pallet) and packaging.

As many industries continue to embrace automation, industrial robot sales are only expected to grow. According to Emergen Research, the industrial robot market was valued at around $42 billion in 2021. Analysts predict the industry will experience a compound annual growth rate of more than 12 percent through 2030, fueled by consumer demand for electronics and increased demand for commercial drones for use in logistics, defense and transportation sectors.

Such growth can only be a boon to industrial robot companies on the forefront of design, development and manufacturing today, likely leading to even greater adoption and advances in industrial automation.

As industrial robots continue to surge in popularity, here are a few companies that will continue to push the limits of automation even further.


Industrial Robot Companies to Know

Location: Zurich, Switzerland

From manufacturing to logistics, ABB’s wide range of industrial robots are able to perform tasks like arc and spot welding, material-handling functions like sorting and packaging, and quality control. Recently, ABB announced the launch of its delta industrial robot, which is considered to be one of the fastest industrial robots for picking and packing lightweight objects in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical and consumer goods industries, according to a news release from the company.

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Location: Turin, Italy

Comau currently has more than 40 industrial robots on the market with a variety of capabilities ranging from product assembly and material handling to machining and arc welding. Comau’s industrial robots, which work in automotive, logistics and other industries, are able to handle payloads ranging from 3 to 650 kilograms with reduced cycle times for completing programmed tasks of more than 25 percent.


Location: Long Beach, California

Today, more than 143,000 Denso Robotics’ industrial robots are being used by companies all across the world. Applications range from ultrasonic and laser welding to surface finishing in industries like aerospace, semiconductors and pharmaceuticals. Denso itself employs 27,000 of its own industrial robots across its manufacturing facilities. The company’s suite of four-axis robot arms are capable of handling payloads ranging from 3 to 20 kg, and its five- and six-axis robots can handle payloads upwards of 40 kg.


Location: Suwan, South Korea

Doosan Robotics’ industrial robots are able to handle and stack multiple heavy objects in busy manufacturing and production facilities. The company’s robots are also capable of loading and unloading CNC machines, like lathes and milling machines. They can also fasten screws, nuts and bolts to assemble items like thermostats, and can even take on complex tasks requiring human-like precision, like applying glue for car door junctions and heat exchangers.


Location: Tokyo, Japan

Known for its printers, Epson also develops and manufactures its own line of industrial SCARA and six-axis robots. Epson’s more than 300 models of SCARA robots, the first of which were designed 35 years to assemble Seiko watches, range in reach from 77 millimeters to 1000 millimeters. Today, Epson’s G3-Series SCARA robots are being used by Taylor Guitars, helping the guitar manufacturer increase production of their acoustic pickups by 500 a day. The company’s six-axis industrial robots have a “folding arm” design which improves motion and increases efficiency, and feature Quartz micro electro mechanical systems for reduced vibration and faster positioning.


Location: Yamanashi, Japan

Fanuc specializes in industrial robots for manufacturing. The company’s SCARA robots are capable of working with payloads between 3 kg and 20 kg, while assembling products, performing picking-and-placing actions, quality control and packaging at high speeds in automotive, medical device and other industries. Fanuc’s industrial painting and coating robots have been used by the world’s top 15 automakers, according to the company’s website. In August, Fanuc announced plans to increase its operational capacity in Michigan. The expansion will support Fanuc’s engineering, research and development, manufacturing and warehousing operations, Robotics and Automation News reports.


Franka Emika

Location: Munich, Germany

From feeding and unloading press brakes to electronics assembly, Franka Emika’s industrial robots provide automation solutions for production and manufacturing. With seven axes and more than 100 sensors, the company’s new industrial robot, Franka Production 3, provides “human arm-like dexterity” to assembly operations.


Hanwha Corporation/Momentum

Location: Seongnam, South Korea

Industrial robots developed by Hanwha Corporation/Momentum work in diverse sectors, ranging from automotive to pharmaceutical. In the automotive industry, the company’s robots assist in parts manufacturing, assembly and quality control. In the pharmaceutical industry, as well as food and cosmetics, Hanwha’s robots are able to pack, load and perform pick-and-place actions.


Kawada Robotics Group

Location: Nanto, Japan

Nextage, the dual arm industrial robot of Kawada Robotics Groups, is capable of working alongside humans in a variety of manufacturing settings. It has the ability to recognize and respond to its environment thanks to its built-in image recognition system, while 15 axes and an electromagnetic brake system on its shoulders and elbows prevent falls. When utilizing both its arms, Nextage has a maximum payload capacity of 6 kg.

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Location: Tokyo, Japan

Kawasaki doesn’t just make fast motorcycles and jet skis, it also has a thriving industrial robot division. Their robot arms can handle payloads up to 15,000 kg and are used in a diverse range of areas from sealant and adhesive application to silicon wafer transfer in the semiconductor industry. Japanese homebuilder Sekisui Heim, which constructs individual housing units at its factory before shipping them to homesites for final installation, is using Kawasaki’s BX200L robot to weld beams and posts for gable frames. Rehkemper & Son, a U.S.-based building-component manufacturer, is also using Kawasaki’s industrial robots to help assemble walls used in prefabricated homes.


Kinova Robotics

Location: Boisbriand, Canada

Kinova Robotics’ industrial robots are helping manufacturers automate tasks like assembly and dispensing. In March, Kinova introduced Link 6, the first industrial collaborative robot to come out of Canada. Link 6, which specializes in applications like pick and place, part assembly and machine tending, is able to reduce cycle times with its longer reach and faster movements.


Location: Bavaria, Germany

Industrial robots from KUKA Robotics work across a diverse range of industries and production and manufacturing environments. They’re able to assist in ultra-clean room settings — areas with low concentrations of particulates in the air — for tasks like semiconductor fabrication. KUKA’s industrial robots are also able to assist in nuclear decommissioning and other radioactive environments where they take on dangerous tasks like handling and sorting waste.



Location: Montreal, Quebec

Mecademic specializes in ultra-small industrial robots capable of high-speed pick and place and lab automation with a small footprint. Its six-axis industrial robot arm, Meca500, has a reach of 330 mm and maximum payload capacity of 1 kg. With sensors and wireless connectivity, Meca500 is also capable of gathering data, the analysis of which can lead to improved efficiency through more informed decision-making.


Location: Vernon Hills, Illinois

From apple and air freshener packaging to watch assembly, Mitsubishi’s industrial robots work in a variety of settings, keeping production costs low in sectors like the automotive industry and decreasing production footprints in other areas like solar assembly, according to the company. The company’s vertically articulated industrial robots are able to handle assembly, machine-tending and tray-handling applications. Mitsubishi’s SCARA industrial robots are also suited for assembly applications, as well as pick and place and case packing.


Location: Toyama, Japan

For arc welding applications, Nachi Robotics Systems’ industrial robots feature sensing capabilities like touch, seam tracking and laser search, which increases the ways they can be used and allows them to work on complex components. The company’s robots are also capable of working in other applications like material handling, machine tending and dispensing, where average dispensing speeds range from 500 mm to 1000 mm per second.


Location: Pleasanton, California

The industrial robot line from OMRON Group features both four-axis SCARA robots and six-axis articulated robots, as well as parallel robots for pick-and-place applications. OMRON’s SCARA robots are capable of assembly, precision machining, material handling and adhesive application. The company’s Viper-series robots are also well-suited for machining, assembly and material handling in a variety of industries.


Location: Pfäffikon, Switzerland

Stäubli’s industrial robots combine small footprints with increased speed and precision. The company’s SCARA robots specialize in high-speed assembly, packaging and palletization, while their articulated robots offer increased dexterity and flexibility to assist in machine tending, washing, deburring and polishing applications. Stäubli’s industrial robots are also capable of working in aseptic environments for pharmaceutical operations and humid settings for food and beverage applications. Robotics and Automation News reports that Stäubli’s robots are also being used to assemble high-voltage connectors for the electric vehicle industry.

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Location: Princeton, New Jersey

ST Robotics has worked with leading companies like Pfizer, Sony, HP, as well as institutions like Carnegie Mellon University and NASA. ST Robotic’ R12 industrial robot is a five- or six-axis articulated robot arm that has a reach of 500 mm and a maximum payload capacity of 1 kg, which the company bills as ideal for benchtop automation of testing and sample handling. The company’s R17 model has a reach of 750 mm and maximum payload capacity of 2 kg, which helps automate product testing, welding, spraying and other applications where access is limited or difficult.


Location: Odense, Denmark

Universal Robots has sold over 50,000 collaborative industrial robots across a range of industries from automotive to food and beverage. The company’s industrial robots have been used by automotive companies like Continental, where changeover time — moving components from one station to the next — was reduced by 50 percent; and by Ford where Universal’s robots are working on a Romanian assembly line greasing camshafts and filling engines with oil.


Location: Kitakyushu, Japan

In 1977, Yaskawa introduced the first all-electric industrial robot in Japan, shipping close to 500,000 in the more than 40 years since. Working across logistics, automotive, and food and beverage industries, Yaskawa robots are used in applications like welding, assembly and painting. The company is also working in the electric vehicle industry by helping to produce high-capacity batteries and in the biomedical industry testing bacteria and preparing drugs.

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