Global Robotics Industry to Set New Record in 2014

By Nancy Bartels

Jul 21, 2014

"In 2013, about 179,000 industrial robots were sold worldwide, again an all-time high and 12% more than in 2012," said Arturo Baroncelli, International Federation of Robotics (IFR), president at the Automatica show in Munich in June. "Incoming orders in the first four months of 2014 increased remarkably, and requests from all customer industries are on the rise. We expect that in 2014 growth of unit sales will continue with the same pace as in 2013."

Increases in All Regions

Robot sales reached record levels in Asia/Australia, the Americas and in Africa. Almost 100,000 new robots were installed in 2013 in Asia/Australia, 18% more than in 2012. The European market increased by 5% to more than 43,000 units, approaching the all-time-high of 2011. Robot supplies to the Americas continued to increase by 8% to more than 30,000 units. More than 700 industrial robots were sold in Africa—87% more than in 2012.

China is by far the biggest robot market in the world in terms of annual sales and also the fastest growing market worldwide. Almost 37,000 industrial robots were sold in China in 2013. The sales volume was almost three times higher than in 2012. In 2013, every fifth robot sold in the world was installed in China.

Japan was the second largest market in annual sales, but it still has, by far, the highest number of industrial robots in operation with more than 300,000 units.

Robot installations in the U.S. continued to increase by 6% to the peak level of almost 24,000 units. Between 2008 and 2013, annual sales in the U.S. increased by 12% on average per year. The driver of this growth was the ongoing trend to automate production to strengthen American industries in global markets, keep manufacturing at home, and in some cases, to bring back manufacturing that had previously been sent overseas.

In 2013, robot sales to South Korea increased by 10% to more than 21,000 units due to increased investments by the automotive industry. The electronics industry which is the main customer of industrial robots in Korea, reduced its robot orders.

Robot sales to the German market were 4% higher in 2013 compared to 2012, and reached more than 18,000 units, the second highest level ever recorded. The automotive industry was again the driver for the growth. Between 2008 and 2013, robot sales to Germany increased by 4% on average.

These four markets represent 50% of the sales volume in 2013.