Robotics: The Future Of Mechanical Engineering

Did you know that robotics will make more than half of all jobs redundant in the medium and long term due to increasing technological progress? However, technological progress offers enormous opportunities for companies in the industry. Thanks to robotics, the manufacturing industry will be able to react optimally to new challenges arising from the increasing individualization requirements of end customers and solid international competition.

Significant optimization potential is revealed, which in turn results in cost savings. A decisive advantage in the global market. And this is also becoming increasingly important for robotics. However, the robotics industry has to do a balancing act here: The changing regional market in Europe should be served by the increasing demand from Asia and overseas.

Dangers As A Mechanical Engineering Location

Even if the framework conditions for robotics and automation manufacturers are currently more favorable than ever, there is potential for a negative trend. As part of the study “Prospects for mechanical engineering – Acting successfully in a dynamic environment”, the Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) and McKinsey & Company surveyed a total of 333 companies and conducted comprehensive interviews with more than 50 decisions- makers from the mechanical and plant engineering industry Plant construction led. The following trends were named as the top potential disruptive factors for positive development in the future:

  • The shift in demand to countries outside Europe (90% of respondents in the sector)
  • The need for customized system/integration solutions (81%)
  • The increasing importance of after sales/service (71%)
  • Competition from new entrants (48%)

Nevertheless, most robotics and mechanical engineering manufacturers see these trends more as an opportunity than a tangible danger – as do the mechanical and plant engineers. In particular, the area of ​​​​after sales/services is an opportunity to differentiate one’s offer from new competitors. The company also sees itself well-positioned to meet the increasing demand for customer-specific system/integration solutions.

Things get interesting when demand shifts abroad. In Europe, the wage structure is traditionally relatively high, which is why the production automation in European countries is already above average. Although the automation trend is progressing here, countries with existing industrial output and rising wage levels also offer enormous sales potential. China, for example, and the USA and Canada meet these requirements due to the reindustrialization there.

Approaches For Action For The Industry

Smaller companies, particularly, can quickly be overwhelmed by the necessary internationalization. Therefore, the VDMA and McKinsey & Company recommend focusing on pure export or cooperation with companies in similar situations. According to the experts, a holistic growth strategy and internationalization should only be pursued step by step. This minimizes the investment risk.

Another critical approach: tapping the potential of Industry 4.0. The so-called intelligent factory supplements original robotics topics, such as human-machine interaction and advanced robotics, with another field that will become increasingly important due to the expected technological gains in the coming years. The same applies here to smaller companies: entering into partnerships – or joining research networks. This is the only way they can cope with the changing events in the market.

How To Prepare Your Company For The Future

There is no question: the future of mechanical engineering lies in robotics. And due to the expected advances in layer construction technologies (layer-by-layer production of tools, similar to 3D printers) about lower production costs and mechanical material properties, the application areas will also become increasingly attractive in the coming years. In addition, there are rising wage costs in the previous low-wage countries with regional industries, which is why automation solutions are also becoming increasingly attractive.

A change is therefore becoming apparent within the sector, to which the regional industry must adapt: ​​the primary demand is shifting to the outside of Europe in the medium and long term. On the “old continent”, it does not come to a standstill either. Still, it is changing: The industry has already reached a high level of automation saturation, which is why maintenance and other services are becoming more critical. Due to the trend towards intelligent companies, the requirement profiles are also changing. Networking and holistic offers are gaining importance. Instead of individual production lines, production processes and entire companies want to be automated.


Therefore, the robotics and mechanical engineering industry should position itself internationally relatively quickly, tap the potential of Industry 4.0 that still exists, and, in particular, serve the increasing importance and demand in the after sales/service area. In addition, it is essential to seek appropriately skilled workers at an early stage: the close integration of IT and electrical engineering with classic mechanical engineering further restricts the potential field of candidates, which is also affected by the shortage of skilled workers.

Also Read: Educational Robotics: What It Is And Why It Matters

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