China’s industrial robots to double by 2017: IFR

Monday July 27, 2015
Written by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
Jul. 27, 2015 - By 2017, more industrial robots will be operating in China’s production plants than in the European Union or North America, according to the International Federation of Robotics’ (IFR’s) 2014 World Robot Statistics study.

The IFR’s statistical department commissioned a global study earlier this year on industrial robots that indicates the Chinese robot market will double in the next three years.

The study estimates that China’s operating unit numbers will double from today’s 200,000 to more than 400,000 — to compare in North America, numbers will rise to about 300,000, with 340,000 predicted for Europe’s five largest economies.  

The IFR notes that China is already the world’s largest market in the sale of industrial robots. “Given China’s still very low robotic density, the future market dimensions are palpably clear,” it states.

To date, China only has 30 industrial robots per 10,000 employees in manufacturing industries, finds the study, while Germany’s robotic density is 10 times larger – in Japan, it is actually 11 times more. Meanwhile in North America, robotic density is five times higher than in China, where the majority of industrial robots are used for handling operations (40 per cent) and for welding (36 per cent), finds the study, adding that the automotive industry is the largest robotic sector at about 40 per cent.

“The automation of China’s production plants has just started,” says Per Vegard Nerseth, managing director of ABB Robotics. “As the first foreign robot manufacturer to arrive here, we have observed the market and developments for years now. We have witnessed swift, almost explosive growth over the last two or three years, surpassing even our expectations.”

“The Chinese government is simultaneously pushing forward with robotic research,” adds the study. “Four out of five industrial robots in China are made by foreign manufacturers — the majority from Japan, North America and Europe. Yet more manufacturers are planning to build their own production lines in China.”

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