HomeChannelsNewsIndustrial robot sales jump 114% in five years, with 70% of shipments to China

Industrial robot sales jump 114% in five years, with 70% of shipments to China

Annual sales of industrial robots to factories has increased by 114 per cent over the last five years, according to a new report. Sales are expected grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13 per cent over the next five years, to around 630,000 units in 2021.

The latest World Robotics Report from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) says sales reached 381,000 units in 2017, up from 178,000 in 2013. The 2017 figure is a 30 per cent increase on the 2016 sales total, of 294,000; 2018 sales are expected to come in at around 421,000, up 10 per cent on 2017.

China commands the lion’s share of sales, with around 70 per cent in 2017, compared just 18 per cent and 12 per cent for Europe and the Americas. China’s share increased from around 65 per cent in 2016, and is forecast to grow to 72 per cent and 75 per cent in 2018 and 2021 (for more on the regional breakdown, see here).

The biggest growth industries for robots sales were also the biggest for robot sales. The automotive and electronics sectors led the way, with 33 per cent and 32 per cent shares, and growth annual growth during the past 12 months of 22 per cent and 33 per cent. The metal industry was third, with 12 per cent of sales, and the highest growth of any sector, of 55 per cent in the period.

The average number of robots per 10,000 employees stands at 85, up from 74 in 2016. The average robot density is 106 units in Europe, 91 in the Americas, and 75 units in Asia.

Meanwhile, the IFR said sales value increased by 21 per cent compared to 2016 to a new peak of $16.2 billion in 2017. Confusingly, it claimed at the same time that total ‘robotics turnover’ was $48 billion in 2017.

Junji Tsuda, president of the IFR, said: “Industrial robots are a crucial part of the progress of manufacturing industry. Robots evolve with many cutting-edge technologies.

“They are vision recognition, skill learning, failure prediction utilising AI, new concept of man-machine-collaboration plus easy programming and so on. They will help improve productivity of manufacturing and expand the field of robot application.”

Meanwhile, the IFR said the sale of service robots for professional use – notably, in the logistics, medical, field, and defence sectors – increased by 85 per cent to 109,500 units and 39 per cent to $6.6 billion in 2017.

These numbers will grow to $8.7 billion and 165,300 units in 2018, increases of 33 per cent and 32 per cent, and $37 billion and 736,000 units in 2021, representing compound annual growth of 19 per cent and 21 per cent.

Logistic systems showed the strongest demand, rising 162 per cent to 69,000 units in the year, accounting for 63 per cent of total unit sales.

The value of sales in the logistics sector, commonly for automated guided vehicles in manufacturing and non-manufacturing environments, was $2.4 billion, an increase of 138 per cent on 2016. Logistic systems accounted for 36 per cent of total revenue sales.

Medical robots and field robots are also well-established, commonly used in robot assisted surgery or therapy, and as milking robots for livestock. The total value of sales of medical robots increased to $1.9 billion, accounting for 29 per cent of the total value in 2017. The sales value of field robots account for about 15 per cent of the total, and by two percent to $966 million.

At the same time, the market for personal service robots, which assist or entertain humans in their everyday lives, is progressing rapidly. Value was up by 27 per cent to $2.1 billion. The total number increased by 25 per cent to about 8.5 million units in 2017.

It is estimated that nearly 6.1 million robots, up 31 per cent on 2016, were sold for domestic tasks, including vacuum cleaning, lawn-mowing, window cleaning and other types.

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