Industrial Robot Statistics

World Robotics 2014 Industrial Robots

2013: The highest number of industrial robots ever sold

In 2013, robot sales increased by 12% to 178,132 units, by far the highest level ever recorded for one year. Sales of industrial robots to the automotive, the chemical, and the rubber and plastics industries, as well as to the food industry continued to increase in 2013. The electrical/electronic industry also increased the number of robot installations in 2013 after the reduction of investments in 2012. China became the biggest robot market with a share of 20% of the total supply in 2013. About 70% of the total robot sales in 2013 were in Japan, China, the United States, Korea and Germany. Between 2008 and 2013 the average robot sales increase was at 9.5% per year (CAGR).

2014 - Estimate worldwide shipments

In 2013, about 30,300 industrial robots were shipped to the Americas, 8% more than in 2012, reaching again a new peak level like in 2011 and 2012. Drivers of this growth were the general industry and the automotive parts suppliers, while the motor vehicle industry reduced robot investments in 2013 compared to 2012. Since 2010, themodernization of the North American factories and the increase of production capacities in North America and in Brazil, especially by the automotive industry, accelerated the pace of robot installations substantially in the Americas. Between 2008 and 2013, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of robot supplies to the Americas was about 12% on average.Robot installations in the United States continued to increase, by 6% to the peak of almost 23,700 units. Since 2010, the necessary modernization of the domestic production facilities has been boosting robot shipments to the United States. Between 2010 and 2013, annual sales in the United States increased by 18% on average per year (CAGR). In Canada, robot sales increased by 29% to 2,250 units in 2013. Despite the increasing trend of robot installations since 2010, the volume is still below the peak levels of 2005 and 2007, when about 3,000 robots were installed in each year. Robot sales to Mexico increased by 30% to a new peak level of 2,739 units in 2013. Robot sales to Brazil decreased from the peak level of 1,645 units to 1,398 units in 2013, 15% less than in 2012.

Asia (including Australia and New Zealand) was by far the biggest region with 98,807 industrial robots sold, 17% higher than in 2012. This was by far the highest level ever recorded. Almost all industries increased robot investment in 2013. After the strong increase of 132% in 2010, sales of industrial robots again rose, by 27%, to a new peak of about 88,700 units in 2011 and decreased in 2012 to 84,645 units. Between 2008 and 2013, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of robot supplies to Asia/Australia was about 8% on average. With Japan excluded, the CAGR was about 22%.

The People's Republic of China became the biggest robot market in 2013 regarding annual sales. For the first time ever, the sales figures of Chinese robot suppliers are included in the IFR statistical survey. 36,560 industrial robots were sold in 2013 in China. Thereof, Chinese robot suppliers installed about 9,000 units according to the information from the China Robot Industry Alliance (CRIA). Their sales volume was almost three times higher than in 2012.  Foreign robot suppliers increased their sales by 20% in China. Between 2008 and 2013, total supply of industrial robots increased by about 36% per year on average in China. In 2013, robot sales in Japan decreased by 12% to 25,110 units. The automotive industry, the electronics industry and the metal and machinery industry significantly reduced their robot investments in 2013. The business of the electrical/electronics industry was already weak in 2011 and 2012. The automotive industry however made considerable investments in robot installations during the same period (2011-2012). New production processes and new car models made it necessary to retool the assembly lines. It was also essential to rebuild factories which were destroyed by the tsunami in 2011. Furthermore, the Japanese automotive industry has had the lead in the development and production of electric cars. Robot sales in Japan have been following a decreasing trend since 2005 (which reached the peak at 44,000 robot units). Between 2008 - just before the global financial crisis - and 2013, robot sales in Japan were decreasing by 5% on average per year (CAGR). Robot supplies in the Republic of Korea increased by 10% to about 21,300 units in 2013 compared to 2012. In particular, the automotive parts suppliers increased their robot investments substantially while almost all other industries bought fewer robots in 2013. In 2013, robot sales surged by 62% to almost 5,500 units, a new peak level in Taiwan which became the fourth largest robots market in Asia. Thailand is one of the rapidly growing robot markets in Asia. In 2013, however, the supply of industrial robots declined from the peak level of about 4,000 units to about 3,200 units. Robot supplies to other South/Eastern Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam increased in 2013. Robot installations in India reached a new peak of about 1,900 units.

In 2013, industrial robot sales in Europe reached almost the peak of 2011 (43,800). About 43,300 units were sold 5% more than in 2012. The drivers of the growth in 2013 were the car manufacturers which increased robot installations by 17% to almost 13,800 units, the highest number ever recorded. Robot sales to almost all other industries decreased. After substantial investments of the automotive industry in 2011 robot installations in this sector were somewhat reduced in 2012, while almost all the other industries continued purchasing robots. Between 2008 and 2013 the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of robot supplies to Europe was about 4.5%.

In 2013, robot sales to Germany - by far the largest robot market in Europe - were 4% higher than in 2012 and reached about 18,300 units, which is the second highest number ever recorded for one year. The motor vehicle suppliers again were the drivers of the growth and increased robot investments while the automotive parts suppliers again reduced their robot installations. All other industries - the general industry - decreased investments in 2013 compared to 2012. Total sales to the general industry have lagged behind expectations since 2009. The robot supply to Germany increased between 2008 and 2013 by about 4% on average per year (CAGR) despite the already existing high robot density. Total sales of industrial robots were up by 7%, to 4,701 units in 2013, from about 4,400 units in 2012 in Italy. The car manufacturers, the metal products industry, and the pharmaceutical industry increased robot installations, while automotive parts suppliers ordered fewer robots. The robot supply in Italy recovered in 2010 and 2011, from 2,900 in 2009 to about 5,100 units in 2011. From 2007 to 2009, robot sales fell from about 5,800 units to 2,900 units. Robot supplies in Italy between 2008 and 2013 were stagnant (compound annual growth rate, CAGR). In 2013, sales of industrial robots in Spain surged by 38% to almost 2,800 units compared to 2012. This was the result of considerable investments of the car manufacturers as well as of almost all other industries, except the rubber and plastics industry. In 2009, Spain had the lowest shipment level since 1998 due to the worldwide economic and financial crisis. In 2010 and 2011, robot sales recovered to about 3,100 units in 2011. In 2012, the robot supply were again down to about 2,000 units. In 2013, sales of industrial robots in the United Kingdom decreased by 16% to 2,486 units, the second highest number of units ever recorded. In 2012, robot installations reached a peak of 2,943 units in the United Kingdom. Robot installations had already grown substantially in 2011. The automotive industry was the driver of the substantial increase in 2011 and 2012. Even though the robot investments of the car manufacturers decreased in 2013, they were still at the second highest level after 2012. The automotive parts suppliers and the general industry further increased robot orders in 2013. The car manufacturers have been investing in modernisation, increasing capacities, retooling, and new production sites. The continued but moderate recovery of robot sales in France since the economic and financial crisis in 2009 was interrupted in 2013. Robot sales dropped by 27% to about 2,200 units. The robot supply to the automotive industry - the largest user of industrial robots - and almost all other industries decreased considerably in 2013. Robot sales to BENELUX were following an increasing trend since 2010, reaching a new peak level of almost 1,900 units. Sales to Sweden increased to about 1,200 units. Robot sales in most of the Central/Eastern European countries were considerably up, especially in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia. Those in Turkey continued to increase in 2013 to about 1,100 units, a new peak level.

Continued increase of robot sales to the automotive industry

Since 2010, the automotive industry - the most important customer of industrial robots - has considerably increased investments in industrial robots worldwide. About 69,400 new robots, 4% more than in 2012, were installed in this industry in 2013, establishing again a new peak. The share of the total supply was about 39%. Between 2009 - when robot installations hit rock bottom - and 2012, robot sales to the automotive industry surged from 19,300 units to 66,500 units. With regard to Australia, China, India, Thailand, Taiwan and other Asian countries, the data concerning the distribution of robots according to various industries is not complete. But considering that most of these countries are emerging markets with regard to the automotive industry, the real share of robot supplies to the automotive industry is probably even higher.

The electrical/electronics industry (including computers and equipment, radio, TV and communication devices and equipment and medical, precision and optical instruments) increased robot orders by 11% to 36,200 units in 2013. This was the second highest level after 2011 (37,750 units). The share of the total supply in 2013 was about 20%. In 2010, the worldwide shipments of industrial robots almost tripled to about 31,500 units, up from 10,900 units in 2009. Although sales decreased in 2012, the rising demand for electronic products and new products, as well as the need to automate production (particularly in low wage countries), were the driving factors for a higher number of industrial robots in 2013.

The rubber and plastics industry has continuously increased the number of robot installations since 2009 from about 5,800 units to 12,200 units in 2013. However, this is still far below the peak of almost 15,000 units in 2006 and 2007. Share of the total supply in 2013 was about 7%. Robot sales to the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry surged by 69% to almost 2,000 units (a new peak). Despite the high degree of automation in this industry, the number of industrial robot installations has remained relatively low for many years. Between 2010 and 2012, sales decreased from almost 1,500 units to almost 1,200 units. The food and beverage industry increased robot orders by 28% to almost 6,200 units, accounting for a share of 4% of the total supply.Sales have been continuously increasing, except in 2009.


In 2013, sales to the metal and machinery industry reached a new peak level of almost 16,500 units, accounting for a share of 9% of the total supply. In 2009, sales dropped to about 5,300 units. In 2010, sales started to recover considerably, and gained further momentum in 2011. In 2012, the supply more or less stagnated.

Sales to all industries, except for automotive and electrical/electronics, increased by 10% in 2013. The robot suppliers have been reporting a considerable increase in the number of customers in the past years. However, the number of units ordered by these customers is often very small. Worldwide operational stock of industrial robots increased again considerably in 2012.

Total accumulated sales, measured since the introduction of industrial robots at the end of the 1960s, amounted to about 2,650,000 units by the end of 2013. These units include the dedicated industrial robots installed in Japan up to and including 2000 (see the tables in annex A). Most of the early robots, however, have by now been taken out of service. Based on the assumptions made in chapter 1, the IFR estimates:

The total worldwide stock of operational industrial robots at the end of 2013 was in the range of 1,332,000 and 1,600,000 units

The minimum figure above is based, as was discussed in chapter 1, on the assumption that the average length of service life is 12 years. A UNECE/IFR pilot study has indicated that the average service life of an industrial robot might in fact be as long as 15 years, which would then result in a worldwide stock of 1,600,000 units.

In 2013, the minimum stock considerably increased by 8%. Due to the tremendous decrease of robot installations in 2009, for the first time the minimum stock of 1,021,000 units in 2009 was about 1% lower than the stock of the year before. In 2010, the stock increased by 1% to the level of 2008. Since then, the stock has been increasing considerably.

Value of the market was up to US$9.5 billion

In 2013, the sales value increased by 12% to US$9.5 billion to a new peak. Unit sales also increased by 12%. It should be noted that the figures cited above generally do not include the cost of software, peripherals and systems engineering. Including the mentioned costs might result in the actual robotic systems market value to be about three times as high. The worldwide market value for robot systems in 2013 is therefore estimated to be US$29 billion.

High potential for robot installations in many countries

When comparing the distribution of multipurpose industrial robots in various countries, the robot stock, expressed in the total number of units, can sometimes be a misleading measure. In order to take into account the differences in the size of the manufacturing industry in various countries, it is preferable to use a measure of robot density. One such measure of robot density is the number of multipurpose industrial robots per 10,000 persons employed in manufacturing industry or in the automotive industry or in the "general industry" (which is all industries excluding the automotive industry).

In 2013, the Republic of Korea again reached the highest robot density in the world. Per 10,000 employees, 437 industrial robots were in operation. The reason is the continued large volume of robot installations in the recent years. The robot density in Japan decreased to 323 units, and in Germany it continued to increase to 282 units. It is followed by Sweden, which in 2013 had a density of 174 robots per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry. The rate has been continuously increasing in the past years. It is followed by Belgium and Denmark with a robot density of 169 and 166 units respectively. The rates increased considerably compared to 2012. The robot density continuously rose in the United States to 152 units in 2013. Taiwan had a increase of robot installations in 2013. The rate of density in Spain continued to increase to 141 units. France follows with 125 industrial robots in operation per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry, Finland with 122 units, Austria with 118 and Canada with 116 units. In the Netherlands, Slovenia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Australia, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom, densities ranged between 93 and 66 units. The robot density ranked below the average robot density worldwide (62 units in 2013) in all other surveyed countries. Many of these countries are emerging robot markets. In 2013, the average robot density in the following regions was: 82 in Europe, 73 in the Americas, and 51 in Asia.

The considerable high rate of automation of the automotive industry compared to all other sectors is demonstrated in the evaluation of the number of industrial robots in operation per 10,000 employees in automotive industry and in all other industries. In 2013, like in previous years, Japan had by far the highest robot density in the automotive industry. 1,520 industrial robots were installed per 10,000 employees in the automotive industry versus 214 robots in all the other industries. In Germany 1,140 robots per 10,000 employees were installed in the automotive industry in 2013. The robot density, the employment rate in the German automotive sector, as well as the operational stock, continuously increased between 2010 and 2013. Furthermore, in all other German industries the robot density continued to increase to 154 units, which is significant compared to the other countries.

Regarding the robot density in the automotive industry, the United States ranked third with a robot density of 1,111 units. It increased only moderately between 2010 and 2013 while the operational stock rose considerably. The reason is the remarkable increase of employment in the automotive industry in the same period. The employment rate in the automotive industry increased by 21% in 2013 compared to 2010. Only 82 units of robots, per 10,000 employees, were installed in all the other sectors.

In China, the huge amount of robot investments in the recent years resulted in a substantial increase in the robot density of the automotive industry. Between 2006 and 2013, the number of installations steadily increased from 51 to 281 robots per 10,000 employees. All other sectors also increased the number of robot installations, but the robot density rate was only about 14 robots per 10,000 employees in 2013. The potential for robot installations in this market is still tremendous.

The overall conclusion indicates that in almost all the surveyed countries, the potential for robot installations in the non-automotive industries is still tremendous, but it is also considerably high in the automotive industry among the emerging markets and in some traditional markets as well. This is mostly due to the necessary modernization and retooling that is needed in these markets.

Double-digit growth between 2014 and 2017

The result of the first two quarters in 2014 of the IFR Quarterly Statistics showed a continued high double-digit growth. A decreasing dynamic of the increase of shipments in the second half of 2014 due to the unsure development of the global economy is likely. Global robot installations are estimated to increase at least by about 15% to 205,000 units in 2014. An even higher increase is possible if the global economic situation improves. The main customer, the automotive industry, is continuing to invest heavily in robot installations. However, robot supply may slow down in certain markets. The electrical/electronics industry is increasing robot investments in production automation as well as in retooling for new production processes. A further increase of robot orders from other industries is also likely, particularly from the rubber and plastics industry, pharmaceutical industry, the food and beverage industry, and the metal and machinery industry. Major growth is expected in Asia, particularly China and Taiwan, Korea and most of the other Southeast Asian markets, and in North America. Robot sales to Europe are expected to increase in 2014 even in the highly automated market of Germany. Robot sales will either stagnate or slightly increase in Italy, France, Spain and the United Kingdom. The supply in the Central and Eastern European countries will further increase. Robot supplies in the Americas will increase by 11% and in Asia/Australia by 21%, while robot sales in Europe will rise by 6%.

From 2015 to 2017, robot installations are estimated to increase by 12% on average per year (CAGR): about 6% in the Americas as well as in Europe, and about 16% in Asia/Australia. The trend towards automation continues to increase the volume of robot installations. Industry 4.0, linking the real-life factory with virtual reality, will play an increasingly important role in global manufacturing. The robotics industry is looking into a bright future. Consider the following facts:

  • Global competition requires modernisation of production facilities.
  • Energy-efficiency and new materials, e.g. carbon-composites, require retooling of production.
  • Human-machine collaboration will open up new applications and attract new customers.
  • Growing consumer markets require expansion of production capacities.
  • Decline in products' life-cycle and increase in the variety of products require flexible automation.
  • Technical improvements of industrial robots will increase the use of robots in the general industry and in small and medium sized companies, e.g. userfriendly robots, uncomplicated, and low priced robots for simple applications.
  • Improved quality requires sophisticated high tech robot systems.
  • Robots improve the quality of work by taking over dangerous, tedious and dirty jobs that are not possible or safe for humans to perform.

Impetus will mainly come from Asia, particularly from China, and from North America. The automotive industry will continue to be the innovator for new technology. The growing global demand for electronic products, new products, and new production technologies are boosting investments in retooling of existing production processes and expanding production capacities of the electrical/electronics industry particularly in Asia. More details are provided in Table 4.1 and Figure 4.1.

Based on the analysis of the robot density in various countries (see chapter 2.5), we can conclude that the potential for robot installations in the non-automotive industries is still tremendous, but it is also considerably high in the automotive industry among the emerging markets and in some traditional markets as well. This is mostly due to the necessary modernization and retooling that is needed in these markets.

Certain risks are involved with regard to this forecast (2015-2017):

Risks in the euro zone are still pointing downwards. Geopolitical risks such as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the resulting tensions between Russia and the Western world, as well as the developments in the emerging countries and on the global financial markets may affect the economy even more adversely than currently expected. Downward risks also include insufficient implementation of structural reforms in the euro zone countries.

However, investments in automation are necessary and are deemed to continue, perhaps at a later point.




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