Industrial robot sales have doubled in five years: International Federation of Robotics

Tuesday October 23, 2018
Written by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
October 23, 2018 – The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) has released the 2018 edition of the World Robotics Report, which shows that a new record high of 381,000 units were shipped globally in 2017 – an increase of 30 per cent compared to the previous year.

This means that the annual sales volume of industrial robots increased by 114 per cent over the last five years from 2013-2017. The sales value increased by 21 per cent compared to 2016 to a new peak of US$16.2 billion in 2017.

“Industrial robots are a crucial part of the progress of manufacturing industry,” says Junji Tsuda, president of the IFR. “Robots evolve with many cutting-edge technologies. They are vision recognition, skill learning, failure prediction utilizing AI, new concept of man-machine collaboration plus easy programming, and so on."

The IFR outlook shows that by 2021, the annual number of robots supplied to factories across the globe will reach about 630,000 units.

The report indicates there are five major markets representing 73 per cent of the total sales volume in 2017: China, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Germany.

The automotive industry remains the largest adopter of robots globally with a share of 33 per cent of the total supply in 2017 – sales increased by 22 per cent. The manufacturing of passenger cars has become increasingly complex over the past ten years, and a substantial proportion of the production processes nowadays require automation solutions using robots. 

The electrical/electronics industry has been catching up with the auto industry: Robot sales increased by 33 per cent to a new peak of 121,300 units, accounting for a share of 32 per cent of the total supply in 2017. The rising demand for electronic products and the increasing need for batteries, chips, and displays were driving factors for the boost in sales. The need to automate production increases demand: robots can handle very small parts at high speeds, with very high degrees of precision, enabling electronics manufacturers to ensure quality while optimizing production costs.

The IFR report also shows that 85 robot units per 10,000 employees is the new average of global robot density in the manufacturing industries, up from 74 units in 2016.

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