According to the latest World Robotics Report, annual sales stand, globally, at more than $16 billion. And while the IFR forecasts that shipment may recede somewhat in 2019 but, by 2022 we can expect annual growth of around 12% every year.
2018 was a record year even while the main robotics customers — the electrical, electronic, and automotive industries — struggled through a tough year.
Certainly, the trade conflict between the US and China posed, and still does, no small amount of uncertainty. And in situations like this, many customers postpone investments such as automation. But for the first time ever, robot installations have topped the 400,000 per year mark. And by 2022, that number is expected to surpass 580,000.
Right now, Asia holds the largest industrial robot market share. 2018 saw the Republic of Korea and China decline, while Japan saw a considerable increase. In total, though, Asia saw an overall growth of 1% while in Europe, the second-biggest market, that figure stood at 14%, reaching a six-year high.
Meanwhile, in the Americas, growth jumped more than 20% from 2017, another six-year high.
Top Five World Robot Markets
Although almost every country is involved in the robot market, there are five that stand head and shoulders above the rest. These countries have taken a collective 47% of the global installations for 2018. Those markets are Japan, China, the Republic of Korea, Germany, and the United States.
China is, and has long been, the largest market, with a 36% share of installations. In 2018 more than 150,000 units were installed, around 1% less than 2017, but more than the entire installation number in the Americas and Europe combined. The total value of installations was $5.4 billion, a number 21% more than 2017.
Robot suppliers in China increased their total installation share of the domestic market by around 5%, a result that is in line with the policy to promote the domestic markets in China. By the same token, foreign supplies dwindled by 7%, a decline caused in part by a weaker automobile industry.
In Japan, there was an increase in robot sales of 21%, an installation of a figure of around 55,000 units. This is representative of the country’s highest value to date. An average growth of 17% per year in the last 6 years is good going for a market that already features high automation levels in their industrial production markets. Japan is the number one manufacturer in the world of industrial robots and 52% of the global supply came from Japan in 2018.
The USA saw an increase in robot installations for the eighth year running, peaking at just over 40,000 units in 2018, up 22% from 2017. Since 2010, it is the ongoing production automation trend that is driving this growth as a way of strengthening US domestic and global market economies. As far as annual installations go, the country is third, pushing Korea into fourth.
In the Republic of Korea, installations dropped by 5%, with just 38,000 unit selling in 2018. The robot market depends very strongly on the electronics industry, one that suffered a tough year. But installations have increased by an average of 12% year on year.
The fifth-largest in the world, Germany is also the number one robot maker in Europe, followed closely by Italy and France. Most installations are driven by the automotive industry.
In terms of numbers of robots worldwide, production is accelerating fast. We now have an average global density of 74 robots per 10,000 employees. That is up from 66 in 2015. By region, the average density in Europe is 99 per 10,0000, in the Americas, it is 84, and in Asia, 63.
The top 15 countries in the world, right now, are:
- South Korea: 631 per 10,000
- Singapore: 488 per 10,000
- Germany: 309 per 10,000
- Japan: 303 per 10,000
- Denmark: 211 per 10,000
- United States: 189 per 10,000
- Italy: 185 per 10,000
- Spain: 160 per 10,000
- Canada: 145 per 10,000
- France: 132 per 10,000
- Switzerland: 128 per 10,000
- Australia: 83 per 10,000
- United Kingdom: 71 per 10,000
- China: 68 per 10,000
- India: 3 per 10,000
Of course, this list will change each year. But the top countries are likely to remain in roughly the same positions as the number of robots rises year on year.