Companies have been adopting robotics and automation into their businesses for many decades now. Robots, which are essentially programmable machines, offer businesses greater productivity. Machines, unlike humans, can work endlessly—days, nights, weekends and holidays. They are also better suited to repetitive and mundane tasks, which humans can find boring.
But robots also offer answers to demographic questions. Thanks to the global aging population, labour shortfalls are on the horizon. Countries such as Japan – where the robotics industry is among the most developed in the world – are already leaning on robotics and automation to plug the gap.
The companies listed below are all found in the ETFS ROBO Global Robotics and Automation ETF (ASX Code: ROBO).
Five companies fuelling the transition
Materialise NV (NASDAQ: MTLS)
Materialise NV is a Belgian 3D printing and software company. They specialise in 3D printing of healthcare products but have recently expanded into metal manufacturing. To give examples, for medical printing they can create personalised implants like dental implants, prosthetic limbs or create 3D models of hearts for surgeons. Their 3D printing software is widely regarded as the best in the market and used by many other companies.
Zebra Technologies (NASDAQ: ZBRA)
Zebra Technologies makes barcode scanners and printers, which help companies track their assets. Zebra has benefitted from e-commerce and the growing use of warehouses, which require vast electronic cataloguing systems in order to automate delivery. Many companies use Zebra’s barcoding system to make things more efficient. Zebra has also benefited from hospitals using barcode technology to keep track of specific samples and medicines.
Kohyoung Technology (KOSDAQ: 098460)
Kohyoung Technology is a Korean business that helps factories make better electrical equipment and remove defects. It does this by making computers that can detect soldering defects on circuit boards, a crucial component given that over 70% of defects can be traced back to bad soldering. Kohyoung has marquee customers such as Apple, Samsung and Tesla.
iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ: IRBT)
iRobot Corporation came from humble beginnings as an MIT start-up, and builds robots that are used at home, as well as by the military and police. Its most famous robot is its vacuum cleaner “Roomba”, which is used in millions of households worldwide. iRobot’s military robots are used for bomb disposals and entering environments that are too dangerous for humans.
Hexagon AB (STOCKHOLM: HEXA-B)
Hexagon AB is a Swedish business that makes sensors and measuring machines, like level meters and total stations. Its sensors are often used as component parts for robots that require sensors for their navigation systems. It has also been boosted by the logistics and ecommerce sector thanks to the coronavirus. Many robots in warehouses require accurate sensors. Its measuring equipment and software are often used in engineering and construction.