The new World Robotics 2020 Industrial Robots report shows a record of 2.7 million industrial robots running in factories around the world – an increase of 12%. Sales of new robots remain high, with global shipments of 373,000 units in 2019. That’s down 12 percent from 2018, but still the third-highest sales year on record.
Asia, Europe, and America – Overview
Asia remains the strongest market for industrial robots – China, the largest operating stock in this region, grew 21 percent to about 783,000 units in 2019. Japan came in the second, with about 355,000 units, up 12%. The third was India, which set a new record of about 26,300 units, up 15%. In five years, India has doubled the number of industrial robots running in its factories.
In Asia, the share of newly installed robots is about two-thirds of the global supply. In China, sales of nearly 140,500 new robots were below the record levels of 2018 and 2017, but still, double those of five years ago (2014:57,000). Installation rates in Asia’s top markets slowed – in China (-9%) and Japan (-10%).
“China is by far the largest and fastest-growing robot market in the world,” said Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “It has the highest number of robots installed each year and operable robots. This rapid development is unique in the history of robotics.
There are now 783,000 industrial robots operating in Chinese factories, up 21%. Sales of new robots remained high in 2019, with about 14,500 units shipped. That was down 9 percent from 2018, but still the third-highest sales ever.
In China, 71 percent of the vast majority of new robots are shipped from foreign suppliers. Chinese manufacturers are still focused on the domestic market, where they are gaining market share. Foreign suppliers delivered about 29 percent of their units to the industry, compared with about 12 percent for Chinese suppliers. As a result, foreign suppliers are more affected by the downturn in China’s auto industry than their Chinese counterparts.
Australia remained the strongest market for industrial robots, with a 14 percent increasing in the region’s operating stock.
The number reached about 168,800 in 2019.
Europe’s operating inventory rose 7% to 580,000 units in 2019. Germany remained the main user, with an operating stock of about 221,500 units, which is about three times as many as Italy (74,400), five times as many as France (42,000), and ten times as many as Britain (21,700).
Robot sales show different performance in the EU’s biggest market: Germany has some 20,500 robots installed. That’s lower than the record 2018 (-23%) but flat with 2014-2016. Sales rose in France (+ 15%), Italy (+ 13%) and the Netherlands (+ 8%). Britain’s level of robotics remains low — the rate of new installations has fallen by 16%. The 2,000 new units installed in Britain are ten times less than in Germany (20,500), five times less than in Italy (11,100), and three times less than in France (6,700).
The United States has the largest user of industrial robots in the Americas, setting a new operating record of about 293.200 units, up 7 percent. Mexico was second with 40,300 vehicles, up 11%, followed by Canada with about 28,600, up 2%.
New installations in the United States fell 17 percent in 2019, compared with a record year in 2018. With 33,300 units sold, sales are still very high, being the second-highest result ever. Most robots in the United States are imported from Japan and Europe. Although there are not many robot manufacturers in North America, there are many important robot SIs. Mexico ranked second in North America with sales of nearly 4,600 vehicles – down 20%. Sales in Canada rose 1 percent to a new record of about 3,600 units shipped.
South America’s no. 1 operating inventory was in Brazil, with nearly 15,300 units, up 8%. Sales were down 17%, with about 1,800 units installed, still one of the best results ever, only after record shipments in 2018.
Global trends in human-computer collaboration
The adoption of human-computer collaboration is on the rise. We saw an 11% increase in the number of collaborative robot installations. This dynamic sales performance stands in stark contrast to the overall trend of traditional industrial robots in 2019. With a growing number of suppliers offering collaborative robots for ever-larger applications, 373,000 industrial robots installed in 2019 have a 4.8 percent market share — a rapidly growing but still nascent market.
Globally, COVID-19 has a significant impact in 2020 – but also offers an opportunity to resume modern and digital production. In the long run, the benefits of increasing the number of robots installed remain: rapid production and delivery of customized products at competitive prices is the main incentive. Automation enables manufacturers to keep production in advanced economies or move it to other countries without sacrificing cost-efficiency. The range of industrial robots is expanding – from traditional cage robots that can handle all payloads quickly and accurately, to materials handling robots, to new collaborative robots that can work safely with humans and fully integrate into worktables.