The development and diffusion of industrial robots

  • Ricardo Zermeño-González

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis describes the history of robots and explains the reasons for the international differences in robot diffusion, and the differences in the diffusion of various robot applications with reference to the UK. As opposed to most of the literature, diffusion is examined with an integrated and interdisciplinary perspective. Robot technology evolves from the interaction of development, supply and manufacture, adoption, and promotion. activities. Emphasis is given to the analysis of adoption, at present the most important limiting factor of robot advancement in the UK.
    Technical development is inferred from a comparison of surveys on equipment, and from the topics of ten years of symposia papers. This classification of papers is also used to highlight the international and institutional differences in robot development. Analysis of the growth in robot supply, manufacture, and use is made from statistics compiled. A series of interviews with users and potential users serves to illustrate the factors and implications of the adoption of different robot systems in the UK.
    Adoption pioneering takes place when several conditions exist: when the technology is compatible with the firm, when its advantages outweigh its disadvantages, and particularly when a climate exists which encourages the managerial involvement and the labour acceptance. The degree of compatibility (technical, methodological, organisational, and economic) and the consequences (profitability, labour impacts, and managerial effects) of different robot systems (transfer, manipulative, processing, and assembly) are determined by various aspects of manufacturing operations (complexity, automation, integration, labour tasks, and working conditions). The climate for adoption pioneering is basically determined by the performance of firms. The firms' policies on capital
    investment have as decisive a role in determining the profitability of robots as their total labour costs. The performance of the motor car industry and its machine builders explains, more than any other factor, the present state of
    robot advancement in the UK.
    Date of AwardSept 1980
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorErnest Braun (Supervisor)


    • industrial robots
    • development
    • innovation
    • diffusion

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