© International Federation of Robotics Analysis | September 18, 2019
Robot investment reaches record $16.5 billion in 2018
The new World Robotics report shows an annual global sales value of USD 16.5 billion in 2018 – a new record. 422’000 units were shipped globally in 2018 – an increase of 6% compared to the previous year.
IFR forecasts shipments in 2019 will recede from the record level in 2018, but expects an average growth of 12% per year from 2020 to 2022. “We saw a dynamic performance in 2018 with a new sales record, even as the main customers for robots – the automotive and electrical-electronics industry – had a difficult year,” says Junji Tsuda, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “The US-China trade conflict imposes uncertainty to the global economy – customers tend to postpone investments. But it is exciting, that the mark of 400,000 robot installations per year has been passed for the first time. The IFR´s longer term outlook shows that the ongoing automation trend and continued technical improvements will result in double digit growth – with an estimate of about 584,000 units in 2022,” Junji Tsuda continues. Asia, Europe and the Americas – overview Asia is the world’s largest industrial robot market. In 2018, there was a mixed picture for the three largest Asian markets: Installations in China and the Republic of Korea declined, while Japan increased considerably. In total, Asia grew by 1%. Robot installations in the second largest market, Europe, increased by 14% and reached a new peak for the sixth year in a row. In the Americas, the growth rate reached 20% more than the year before which also marks a new record level for the sixth year in a row. Robot use by industry worldwide The automotive industry remains the largest adopter of robots globally with a share of almost 30%of the total supply (2018). After a very strong year 2017 that saw a 21% increase of installations, this level was maintained and slightly increased by 2% in 2018. Investments in new car production capacities and in modernization have driven the demand for robots. Using new materials, developing energy efficient drive systems and high competition in all major car markets pushed for investments. 79% of industrial robot installations took place in 5 key markets: China (39’351 units), Japan (17’346 units), Germany (15’673 units), the United States (15’246 units) and the Republic of Korea (11’034 units). Interestingly, India, the world’s fourth largest vehicle producer by OICA´s production statistics, had just about 2’100 industrial robots installed in its automotive industry. The electrical/electronics industry was about to replace the automotive industry as the most important customer for industrial robots in 2017. However, in 2018, global demand for electronic devices and components substantially decreased. This customer industry is probably the one most affected by the US-China trade crisis as Asian countries are leaders in manufacturing electronic products and components. Robot installations in this industry declined by 14% from their peak level of about 122’000 units in 2017 to 105’000 units in 2018. 79% of the total installations in the electrical/electronics industry were installed in three countries with major production sites: China (43%), Republic of Korea (19%), Japan (17%). Vietnam saw a one-off boost of installations in 2017 driven by a few major projects (7’080 units), but dropped back in 2018 (689 units). The metal and machinery industry established itself as the third largest customer industry. Installations accounted for 10% of total demand in 2018. Both producers of metal products (without automotive parts) and producers of industrial machinery, have bought substantial amounts of robots in recent years. Installations rose to about 43’500 units in 2018. This is 1% less than in the record year of 2017 (44’191 units). Robots designed for collaborative use (Cobots) For the first time, World Robotics analyses the market for collaborative industrial robots (cobots). Cobots are designed to perform tasks in the same workspace as human workers. Despite a very strong media attention of cobots, the number of units installed is still very low with a share of 3.24% only. In 2018, less than 14'000 out of more than 422'000 industrial robots installed, were cobots. The year before that, roughly 11'100 units were cobots. From 2017 to 2018, annual installations of cobots increased by 23%.