January 27, 2022
Cobot manufacturer Universal Robots has announced it earned $311 million in revenue in 2021, up 41% compared with 2020 and 23% higher than revenue from 2019, pre-pandemic. The revenue numbers for Universal also represent a new record.
“Universal Robots has had a great year,” said Kim Povlsen, president of Universal. “In a company like ours, which manufactures sophisticated hardware to high quality standards, this sort of growth requires tremendous commitment from all involved. Our production team in Denmark has broken internal records for the number of cobots built, producing 400 cobots in a single week in Q4. Our supply chain experts have worked hard to keep our business running smoothly despite global supply challenges.”
The company reported that Q4 revenue also broke records, with 22% growth over Q4 2020 and 28% higher than Q4 2019 revenues. “Our growth is driven by several long-term trends, including workforce shortages and growing awareness of the contribution automation can make to productivity,” said Povlsen. “As well as reaching new consumers, we see repeat business from manufacturers extending their use of cobots after seeing the impact of the technology.”
In addition, Universal said it expects to see strong growth in 2022. “Demand for collaborative robots is set to grow and our unique ecosystem is growing with it,” said Povlsen. “Working with more than 1,000 independent companies – including component, kit and application manufacturers, certified integrators and distributors – collaborative innovation is what sets our growth journey apart.”
Robotics World’s sister publication, Panel Builder & Systems Integrator, recently spoke with Povlsen about the company’s growth and plans for the future:
PB&SI: In your opinion, what’s been the greatest contributor to the growth of Universal Robots in 2021?
Povlsen: There’s been a couple different things. There are some big trends driving the demand, and then there are some organic things happening as well. Starting with the organic things, I believe that things take time and even though we are just scratching the surface with robotics, I think the awareness of what this technology can do, especially in small and medium-based enterprises is starting to be more broadly accepted.
People know “OK, this is something that could be useful.” That plus, of course there is the labor shortage in the U.S. and everywhere else at the moment. People are deciding to retire, there has been the pandemic, and many younger generations are saying they don’t want to take on that kind of work, loading and unloading machines. There are also many middle-aged workers who, post-pandemic, are saying, “We’re not going back to that job, we’ll go back to work, but not that.” There are many things that have changed the face of labor, and this has significantly accelerated over the last year especially.
The other factor that had a significant impact in 2021 is the supply chain. People are waiting longer for things, and this has caused companies to have time to rethink their supply chain situation. People are asking “Where should we get our stuff from? Should we get it more locally?”
This drives a demand, we can call it reshoring or onshoring, and this has generated a kind of demand for sub-providers to start up production more locally. This is a very interesting trend that is happening, and it means that a lot of companies must do high mix, low volume type of production.
How do you do that suddenly? How do you maintain the quality for your current customers at the same level, and how do you change production when you change your mix? For us at Universal Robots, the answer is very often collaborative automation. The micro and macro factors don’t seem to be going to slow down any time soon and that’s driving a huge amount of automation, everywhere.
You can read more of the interview with Povlsen at Panel Builder & Systems Integrator.