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Record 2.7 Million Robots Work in Factories Around the Globe

FRANKFURT, Germany—The World Robotics 2020 Industrial Robots report presented by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) shows a record of 2.7 million industrial robots operating in factories around the world. This amount represents an increase of 12 percent from 2019. Sales of new robots remain on a high level with 373,000 units shipped globally in 2019. This is 12 percent less compared to 2018, but still the third highest sales volume ever recorded.


“The stock of industrial robots operating in factories around the world today marks the highest level in history,” says Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “Driven by the success story of smart production and automation this is a worldwide increase of about 85% within five years (2014-2019). The recent slowdown in sales by 12 percent reflects the difficult times the two main customer industries, automotive and electrical/electronics, have experienced.”


Asia remains the strongest market for industrial robots. Operational stock for the region´s largest adopter China rose by 21 percent and reached about 783,000 units in 2019. Japan ranks second with about 355,000 units–an increase of 12 percent. A runner-up is India with a new record of about 26,300 units, or plus 15 percent. Within five years, India has doubled the number of industrial robots operating in the country´s factories.


The share of newly installed robots in Asia was about two thirds of global supply. Sales of almost 140,500 new robots in China is below the record years of 2018 and 2017 but still more than double the numbers sold five years ago (2014: 57,000 units). Installations of top Asian markets slowed down – in China (minus 9 percent) and Japan (minus 10).


Europe reached an operational stock of 580,000 units in 2019, or plus 7 percent. Germany remains the main user with an operational stock of about 221,500 units – this is about three times the stock of Italy (74,400 units), five times the stock of France (42,000 units) and about ten times the stock of the UK (21,700 units).


The USA is the largest industrial robot user in the Americas, reaching a new operational stock record of about 293.200 units, which is up 7 percent. Mexico comes second with 40,300 units, which is a plus of 11 percent, followed by Canada with about 28,600 units, or plus 2 percent.


New installations in the United States slowed down by 17 percent in 2019 compared to the record year of 2018. Although, with 33,300 shipped units, sales remain on a very high level representing the second strongest result of all time. Most of the robots in the USA are imported from Japan and Europe. Although, there are not many North American robot manufacturers, there are numerous important robot system integrators. Mexico ranks second in North America with almost 4,600 units–a slowdown of 20 percent. Sales in Canada are 1 percent up to a new record of about 3,600 shipped units.


Finally, the adoption of human-robot collaboration is on the rise, as cobot installations grew by 11 percent. This dynamic sales performance was in contrast to the overall trend with traditional industrial robots in 2019. As more and more suppliers offer collaborative robots and the range of applications becomes bigger, the market share reached 4.8 percent of the total of 373,000 industrial robots installed in 2019. Although this market is growing rapidly, it is still in its infancy.


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