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Daryl Luke, Global Castrol Product Manager, discusses the crucial role robotics has in industry 4.0.

image of robotics


COVID-19 has reshaped the global manufacturing landscape, with disrupted demand, reduced budgets, and unstable supply chains shaking the industry. Industrial manufacturing was already undergoing significant change prior to the pandemic as companies began to explore the capabilities of process automation. But, faced with a period of extreme upheaval, this transformation has had to accelerate. Industry 4.0 is no longer a vision for the future, it’s already underway. That’s why at Castrol, we are committed to developing the right solutions for today and tomorrow world, even out of this world. As you read this our lubricants are in the veins of NASA’s perseverance rover and autonomous robotic helicopter, the Ingenuity.As budgets start to recover, manufacturers will need to decide where they direct their investment. One key area of focus will be robotics.


The number of industrial robots operating in factories around the world today marks the highest level ever recorded. Data from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) reveals that global operational stocks experienced an increase of around 85% between 2014 and 2019, with the greatest demand coming from end-user such as automotive and electronics OEMs.


Despite battling COVID-19 headwinds, sales of new robots continued to grow at 0.5% in 2020 – and a post-pandemic surge is anticipated. Castrol’s research reveals that there could be more than 4 million industrial robots in operation by 2025.


Robotics and automation will be the key to managing disruptive trends as we move towards a “5S” future.

Slow recovery
The gradual recovery of the economy will impose a financial stress on factories and, with labor costs continuing to rise, it will be increasingly important for manufacturers to take steps to improve their output per worker to stay competitive. Advances in robotics offer opportunities for dramatic boosts in productivity and efficiency.
Industrial robots are quickly becoming more affordable, and after the initial investment, they don’t require a salary, or any additional compensation. Robots are now capable of performing the most dangerous, oppressive, and routine tasks, allowing workers to be relocated to safer, and more rewarding, tasks. And, with long operating times, this automated workforce can transform 12-hour manufacturing facilities into 24-hour operations.   
Supply resilience

The pandemic turned global production and international trade on its head, prompting companies to rethink their supply chain strategies. Many are taking action to relocate manufacturing activity closer to home, which means opening new factories and reviving dormant ones. These new facilities are likely to be smaller and more automated, making disruptive technologies key to ‘reshoring’ success.


Robots, particularly collaborative robots (cobots), will play a significant role in lowering the cost of reshoring. Increasing efficiency in automation means that the price of using robotics in domestic production will only reduce over time, enabling organizations of all sizes to remain cost-competitive while maintaining a higher level of supply-chain security.[LK1]  [LK1]Can we extract this as a quote on the website pls, to be sitted above the table somehow?

Smart factories

As we enter Industry 4.0, many companies are working to catch up with digitalization and increase flexibility within their production process. As one of the core components of the smart factory, robots can be connected with other equipment to digitize key aspects of production from order intake to delivery.


Advancements in adjacent technologies, such as cloud computing, 5G, and artificial intelligence (AI) will expand the range of robot applications and further improve performance. For example, ever-improving machine vision is enabling robots to carry out their own quality control checks.

Smaller batch production

The last two years have shown how quickly demand can shift. Murky consumption, along with the trend towards shorter product cycles and demand for personalization calls for leaner manufacturing models. A common misconception is that robots are only suited to high volume manufacturing, but this isn’t the case.


In fact, robots enable companies to adapt product lines more quickly in line with demand shifts. Collaborative robots – or “cobots” – are designed to work alongside human operators, offering increased flexibility and simpler programming, at a price that is affordable for businesses of any size.


The Green Deal, launched by the EU to fund a sustainable recovery, put net-zero transition firmly on the agenda for manufacturers. Replacing aging equipment with industrial robots will go a long way in shrinking the industry’s carbon footprint.

Robots are able to operate under low lighting, without heat or air conditioning, resulting in substantial energy savings for companies. Additionally, the increased level of precision they provide helps to ‘green’ manufacturing processes by minimizing error and, therefore, reducing waste.


Automation will not only lead to a more efficient future for manufacturing but, ultimately, a more sustainable one.

Harnessing the power of robotics

If industrial manufacturers are going to survive – and thrive – in an ever more unpredictable world, they will have to adapt more quickly than anticipated. Robotics are the change agents that are making this possible.

But, as the robotics market grows, so does the demand for high-quality aftercare solutions. Our recent report – Robots on the Rise – explores how arming manufacturers with the right aftercare products can help to power the factory of the future. 

Daryl Luke

Castrol Global Product Manager