Robots By The Number

The industrial robots boom 2019. The number of industrial robots deployed worldwide will increase to around 2.6 million units by 2019. That’s about one million units more than in the record-breaking year of 2015.

In 2017, robot sales increased by 30% to 381,335 units, a new peak for the fifth
year in a row. The main drivers of this exceptional growth in 2017 were the metal
industry (+55%) and electrical/electronics industry (+33%). Robot sales in the automotive industry increased by 22% and remained still the major customer of industrial robots with a share of 33% of the total supply in 2017.

The electrical/electronics industry has been catching up, especially since 2015. In 2017, it reached almost the same share of total supply (32%). The electrical/electronics industry became the most important customer in almost all major Asian markets, e.g. China, Japan, Republic of Korea, already in 2016.

Since 2010, the demand for industrial robots has accelerated considerably due to the ongoing trend toward automation and continued innovative technical improvements in industrial robots. Between 2012 and 2017, the average robot sales increase was at 19% per year (CAGR). The number of robot installations had never increased so strongly before. Between 2005 and 2008, the average annual number of robots sold was about 115,000 units. 2009 however, was not an ordinary year because of the global economic and financial crisis which caused an exceptional plunge in robot sales that year.

In 2010, investments which had been restrained in 2009 were the main driver of the significant increase in robot sales. Between 2011 and 2017, the average annual supply doubled to about 236,000 units compared to the average annual supply between 2005 and 2008. In the past three years (2015-2017) the average annual increase was about 310,000 units.

This is a clear indication of the tremendous, accelerating rise in demand for industrial robots worldwide.

Robot density in the United States manufacturing industry reached 200 robots per 10,000 employees in 2017, according to the International Federation of Robotics. That number is an increase from 189 robots in 2016 and 176 robots in 2015.

Robot density is a measurement that tracks the number of robots per 10,000 workers in an industry. While the US ranks 7th in the world in robot density, it has quite a ways to go to catch up to The Republic of Korea (710) and Singapore (638) that continue to rank first and second worldwide.

Based on the IFR’s initial numbers, there were no changes to the order of the top seven countries with the highest robot density. All seven countries saw the number increase. Here’s how the countries performed in 2016 and 2017.

The IFR points out that the robot density in the US manufacturing industry is more than double that of China, which ranks 21st in the world with a robot density of 97.

The IFR, which will discuss robot density in more detail at Automate 2019 in Chicago, says the trend to automate production in both domestic and global markets is the main driving force of robot installations in the US. The general industry sector, particularly the food and beverage industry (+64%) and the plastic and chemical products industry (+30%), had the highest growth.