In 2015, the number of industrial robots sold worldwide surpassed the 240,000 unit mark for the first time, according to the World Robotics Federation (IFR) Statistical Department. This corresponds to global year-over-year growth of 8 percent, with the greatest demand registered by the automotive industry.
“In the age of Industry 4.0, the automotive industry is taking a leading role when it comes to flexible and state-of-the-art automation solutions and the direct collaboration between humans and robots,” said Stefan Lampa, president and CEO of KUKA Robotics.
“Moreover, the demand for automation solutions is constantly growing in nearly all sectors. New markets are evolving where automation has not been a major topic until now. A particularly important market for us is the electronics sector: the electronics industry is confronted with an increasing number of new products, an accelerating pace of development and short product life cycles. Here too, flexibility is the be-all and end-all in the industry.”
It was also reported by the IFR that ─ in global markets ─ China continues to exhibit the highest demand for industrial robots as sales rose by 16 percent. Despite the general perception of a “reluctant” investment climate, China extended its leading position as the number one sales market worldwide with unit sales reaching 66,000. This includes the units sold by local Chinese suppliers. Total sales in China, however, remained below the original IFR forecast of 30 percent. Demand in Asia, excluding China, remained at a high level with 78,000 units sold.
Sales of industrial robots in Europe rose by a record of 9 percent to nearly 50,000 units. Eastern Europe, with growth of 29 percent, proved to be one of the fastest growing regions globally. The number of units deployed in North America also broke a new record: in the U.S., Canada and Mexico a total of 34,000 units were sold in 2015 representing year-on-year growth of 11 percent.
Articulated robots were the most sold robot type. According to the IFR, the diverse range of applications across which articulated robots are deployed, coupled with the broad range of models available, has helped to drive sales of this type across all regions to over 150,000 units in 2015, a new high.
“Global robot shipments in 2015 confirmed that these are very exciting times to be in the robotics industry,” said Per Vegard Nerseth, managing director of ABB Robotics. “As we move into 2016, the traditional drivers in our industry are now being complemented by the tremendous demand for solutions related to the Internet of Things, Services and People, all of which lead me to believe that this year will be yet another record year for all concerned.”