Here are 5 ways to prepare your business to effectively use robots

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Enterprise robot shipments are estimated to hit 1.2 million annually by 2022, according to new research from Tractica. The growth is attributed to robots becoming more affordable and productive for enterprise markets, the report said.

Robots for the logistics or agriculture industries are slated to see the most growth, with customer service, construction, and telepresence robots also seeing increased shipments, the report said.

SEE: Hiring kit: Robotics engineer (Tech Pro Research)

These predictions could mean more driverless tractors and robots managing soil conditions, animals, and field crops in agriculture businesses. For logistics businesses, they could translate to automated storage and retrieval systems and mobile robot platforms, the report noted.

Shipments of enterprise robots are estimated to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 57% between 2016, which had 83,000 shipments, and 2022, according to the report. Global revenue for enterprise robots is slated to hit $67.9 billion by 2022, up $62 billion from 2016.

Although they varied by industry, the market drivers generally were a growing demand for systems that are faster, error-free, and customer-specific.

Like other forms of artificial intelligence (AI), in these industries, robots are expected to cut costs and increase productivity, typically taking over mundane tasks so humans can focus on other things. The report said the robots may also be trusted to solve business challenges.

"Just as robotics has transformed manufacturing and heavy industry in recent years, robots are beginning to impact enterprise work processes, with innovative and effective solutions being introduced with increased frequency," said research analyst Manoj Sahi in the report.

The top barriers facing AI adoption are a skills shortage, difficulty with stakeholder buy-in, and AI's high cost, according to research released Monday from the International Data Corporation (IDC) and DataRobot. The Tractica report largely agreed with this assessment, noting that technical limitations due to the human workforce, awareness, and the inability to replace some human skills will be among the top challenges for AI adoption.

The report outlined 13 ways for businesses planning to develop or utilize robots successfully. Here are the top five.

1. Figure out how much your company would really save from implementing robots

Robots can be more expensive than advertised, the report warned. Businesses should look for indirect or hidden costs.

2. Determine the best robotizing level for you

Not every company needs to automate every single process. Applying the appropriate level of automation is important for remaining competitive, the report said, and that level depends on operation and business models. Similarly, not every robot needs to run on the cloud.

3. Plan to follow up

Even robots fail sometimes. Have plans to check on service quality after production or sales to make sure you're getting what you need and things are working correctly.

4. Have a safety plan

If robots and humans will be working in the same space, come up with a procedure in case something goes wrong, like an injury.

5. Be careful saying "AI" too much

Watch out for overusing the term "AI." As the field grows, hype will grow around the term, potentially causing some companies to oversell their products, the report said. Oversold products could hurt the market in the long run, the report added.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Enterprise robot shipments are expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 57% between now and 2022, eventually hitting 1.2 million annual shipments in 2022.
  2. Global revenue is slated to increase as well, jumping from $5.9 billion in 2016 to $67.9 billion in 2022.
  3. The logistics and agriculture fields are set to see the most growth, as robots become more affordable and productive for all industries.

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Image: iStockphoto/PhonlamaiPhoto

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