German Robotics Recovers, May Change Supply Chains

June 2021

As was true for many sectors during the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was a hard year for robotics and automation. But the industry looks headed for a major rebound. Germany mechanical engineering trade association VDMA is predicting annual growth of 11 percent in 2021, which would take yearly turnover back to EUR 13.4 billion.

Experts are bullish on the future of robotics, automation and 3D printing in Germany for a number of reasons, first and foremost because the pandemic has underscored the advantages of shorter supply chains.

“The corona crisis and the uncertainty accompanying it will provide a new impulse for robots in German industry,” Dalia Marin, a professor of economics at the Technical University of Munich, told business magazine Wirtschaftwoche. “Robots are increasingly becoming a substitute for global supply chains.”

Another driver of a potential German robotics boom are current low interest rates, which make it more attractive for businesses to use credit to push automation rather pay hourly wages. In essence, robots are becoming cheaper vis-à-vis human labor.

One company that may have read the writing on the wall is the Yaskawa Electric Corporation. The Japanese robotics manufacturer is investing EUR 23 million to expand its European headquarters located in western Germany. Construction is set to commence next year.

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