A common stereotype of a robot is that of a dumb machine that is only capable of undertaking very basic and highly repetitive jobs. In Finland, however, this stereotype is being put to the test. Contrary to common belief, robots are often being used for advanced tasks in Finnish industry, according to a new market report.
“The companies that use robots in Finland are mainly those that manufacture heavy and expensive machinery in low quantities,” said Jyrki Latokartano, chairman of the Robotics Society in Finland. “Automating this process requires robot cells to be more flexible and cleverer than in a high-volume production, which is where you would usually find robots working.”
The integrators building and implementing robotics in Finland have developed engineering expertise in automating these niche applications demanded by end users, according to the report. The 2022 report is based on responses from 113 robotics and automation suppliers in Finland and was conducted by the Robotics Society in Finland, independent advisors Gain & Co., and online marketplace HowToRobot.com.
“The integrators in Finland are automating things that no one else is willing to do,” Latokartano said. “They are crazy enough to do it – and succeed.”
Robots laser-clean fighter jets
Examples of the niche applications that robotic companies in Finland are taking on include laser cleaning of body parts for the F-35 combat aircraft, arc welding of cruise ships, and robotic waste sorting using machine learning (see below). Automating such complicated tasks requires special knowledge to be a profitable investment, according to Søren Peters, CEO of HowToRobot and Gain & Co.
“Most businesses use robots to solve immediate needs and are careful with going into experimental projects with a more uncertain outcome,” he said. “The robotic companies that are able to prove the business case in these new areas will be worth watching.”
In addition, robotics companies in Finland have managed to find ways to turn these difficult tasks into jobs that are affordable for robots to do, said Latokartano.
“Finnish integrators are working their way around automating the manufacturing of single-piece heavy machines,” he said. “By breaking the task for the robot into smaller, repeatable parts, they are able to resemble a high-volume production with a good return on investment.”
Finland robotics report highlights
The researchers identified 113 robot and automation suppliers in Finland, including the following:
- 11 robot manufacturers and 38 subcomponent suppliers
- 55 integrators
- 4 distributors
- 5 advisors
These are the top industries in Finland that robotics companies are supplying:
- Metal and machinery: 74 suppliers
- Automotive: 44 suppliers
- Electronics and technology: 44 suppliers
In addition, the report tallied the top types of systems offered by automation suppliers in Finland:
- Handling and picking: 48 suppliers
- Inspection and quality assurance: 36 suppliers
- Logistics: 34 suppliers
- Assembly: 34 suppliers
For access to further statistics and datasets on Finland, HowToRobot.com offers a free preview and the full report.