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Looking Back at 2020 Robotics Trends

2020 brings to you our fifth year in a row we have done a year-end robotics trends post. I love analytics which makes it fun to go back and see what were our popular robotic applications, industries, and robots.

Review Previous Years’ Trends

2020 was definitely a year to think about the benefit of adding robotics. Motion Controls Robotics had a lot of requests for robot systems from companies looking at improving their handling, packaging, or manufacturing process.

According to The Robotic Industries Association (RIA), there was a decline in robotics by 18% this year, but as we can tell you, people are looking and planning for the next few years. That is why many believe there will be a definite surge in robotics installations for 2021-2023.

Industry – 2020 Robotics Trends

MCRI had a variety of industries send us requests for robotics (see list of industries in the chart). The most requests came from the food and beverage industry. The food and beverage industry plans to make changes to better follow regulations and keep up with volume demands without having to expand square footage.


  • Food & Beverage
  • Pharmacy
  • Automotive
  • Consumer Goods
  • Building & Construction
  • Appliance
  • Plastics & Container
  • Manufacturing
  • Other
  • Paper and Converting

Robotic Application – 2020 Robotics Trends

Mixing all these industries together we find what applications companies are deciding would be the most beneficial – bringing them the best ROI. The answer this year is PALLETIZING. End of line solutions that include palletizing is most popular because they allow flexibility for a variety of pallet patterns and case sizes. Many companies already had hard automation for palletizing, but hard automation has become almost obsolete because of the need for flexibility for volume changes and customer personalization. Below is a chart showing other applications our customers requested during 2020


  • Palletizing
  • Warehouse/Distribution
  • Load/Unload
  • General Material Handling
  • Picking
  • Roll Handling
  • Case Packing
  • Labeling
  • Depalletizing
  • Board Handling

Most Popular Robots – 2020 Robotics Trends

FANUC has hundreds of robot models available to integrate into a variety of processes. FANUC strives to make sure there is a robot for every need and every industry. MCRI focuses on end of line packaging, warehouse automation, and general material handling. This narrows the robots that we need to the ones built for these applications. Following along with the trends seen above, the FANUC M410 is our most often quoted robot because this is FANUC’s palletizing robot.

The chart below shows other robots we have included in systems this year. We have seen a lot of growth in collaborative robots, Delta, and SCARA as add-on robots to improve efficiency.


  • Collaborative Robot
  • LR Mate
  • M10/M20
  • M2000
  • Delta
  • M-410
  • R1000
  • SmartCart
  • R2000
  • M900
  • M710

Looking Back over the Last 5 years

While over the years the same application and popular robot has remained top of the lists, we have seen a fluctuation in industries that are looking for robotics. At the top spot has been building and construction, consumer goods, food and beverage, and automotive/manufacturing. We will see what 2021 brings – my guess is medical or food and beverage end of line solutions. What is your thought?

** All numbers in this article are percentages.

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Looking Back at 2020 Robotics Trends

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