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Global robot installations drop in 2020, China leads recovery



Global robot installations dropped two per cent in 2020, according to preliminary World Robotics data released by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

The dip is attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, though the IFR says the decrease was less than expected.

The order intakes of the robotics industry in 2021 indicate there will be strong growth in North America and Europe, the organization says. Order books in the U.S. are filling up quickly, and in Germany, the forecast for the current year shows a strong recovery and signifies a positive turning point for the industry.

Sales numbers are expected to tick up further once supply chain bottlenecks are resolved.

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China’s growth is strong, boosted its industrial robot sales by 19 per cent in 2020. This has a strong positive impact on foreign suppliers – 24 per cent, or 123,000 industrial robots, were shipped from abroad.

Japanese suppliers have a dominant market share. Domestic suppliers delivered 44,000 units to China’s home market, which is an increase of eight per cent compared to 2019.

“The outlook for the robotics industry is optimistic,” says Milton Guerry, president of the International Federation of Robotics, in a statement.

“In China, where the coronavirus lockdown came into force first, the robotics industry started to recover already in 2020.”

A total of 167,000 industrial robots were shipped out of China.

“Robotics have proven flexibility to quickly adapt production and respond to changes in demand as well as smaller batch sizes,” says Guerry.

“The benefits of increased productivity safeguards jobs by keeping companies competitive.”