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Global robot installations at an “all-time high”, says International Federation of Robotics


October 28, 2022  by Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Industrial robot installations worldwide have reached an all-time high in 2021, according to the World Robotics report 2022. Put together by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the report finds that 517,385 new industrial robots were installed last year.

This indicates a 31 percent year-on-year growth rate and exceeds the pre-pandemic record of robot installation in 2018 by 22 percent. The stock of operational robots around the globe hits a new record of about 3.5 million units, says IFR.

“The use of robotics and automation is growing at a breathtaking speed,” says Marina Bill, president of IFR, in a press statement. “Within six years, annual robot installations more than doubled. According to our latest statistics, installations grew strongly in 2021 in all major customer industries, although supply chain disruptions, as well as different local or regional headwinds, hampered production.”

The Americas

IFR shares that 50,712 industrial robots were installed in the Americas in 201, 31 percent more than in 2020. The organization adds that this is the second time that robot installations in the Americas exceeded the 50,000-unit mark, with 55,212 units in 2018 setting the benchmark.

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In the U.S., new installations were up by 14 percent to 34,987 units in 2021. This exceeded the pre-pandemic level of 33,378 units in 2019 but was still lower than the peak level of 40,373 units in 2018.

The automotive industry is still by far the number one adopter with 9,782 units installed in 2021. However, demand had been continuously declining for five years (2016-2021). In 2021 installations were down seven percent compared to 2020. Installations in the metal and machinery industry surged by 66 percent to 3,814 units in 2021, putting this industry in second place in terms of robot demand. The plastic and chemical products industry had 3,466 robots ( up 30 percent) newly installed in 2021. The food and beverage industry installed 25 percent more robots, reaching a new peak level of 3,402 units in 2021. The robotics industry offers hygienic solutions that experienced growing demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Around the world

Asia remains the world’s largest market for industrial robots. Seventy-four percent of all newly deployed robots in 2021 were installed in Asia (2020: 70 percent).

Robot installations in Europe were up 24 percent to 84,302 units in 2021. This represents a new peak. Demand from the automotive industry was steady, while demand from the general industry was up by 51 percent. Germany, which belongs to the five major robot markets in the world, had a share of 28 percent of total installations in Europe. Italy followed with 17 percent and France with seven percent.

Outlook

Rising energy prices, intermediate product prices and scarcity of electronic components are challenging all branches of the global economy. IFR notes, however, that order books are full and demand for industrial robots has never been higher. In total, global robot installations are expected to grow by 10 percent to almost 570,000 units in 2022. The post-pandemic boom experienced in 2021 is expected to fade out in 2022. From 2022 to 2025, average annual growth rates in the medium to upper single-digit range are forecast.


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