Whilst the growth in automation within the UK is increasing, as CKF Systems can testify having seen a significant increase in new business during the first 8 months of 2017, it ranks well outside of the world’s largest industrial robots markets.
Germany is the world’s fifth largest industrial robots market and by far the largest in Europe with annual supply and operational stock of industrial robots in 2016 at 36% and 41% respectively of total robot sales in Europe. The number of robots sold in Germany in 2016 was 20,039. France and Italy occupy the next two places.
Data published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) shows that the strongest growth in industrial robots is in Asia, led by China. With sales of 87,000, China leads the world and came close to matching the total sales volume of Europe and the Americas combined (97,300 units).
South Korea is the second largest market, driven by major investments by its electrical and electronics industry. Around 41,400 units were sold in 2016, a rise of 8% against 2015. The country now has the highest level of robot density in the world, about 630 robots per 10,000 employees.
Sales of industrial robots in Japan increased by 10% to 38,600 units in 2016, the highest level of annual growth since 2006. The predominant robot manufacturing country, Japanese robot suppliers have more than doubled production from 73,900 units in 2010 to 152,600 in 2016 (more than 50% of global supply).
The US is in fourth spot , its robot installation increasing by 14% to a peak of 31,400 units in 2016, largely due to the ongoing trend to automate production in order to strengthen domestic competitiveness on the world stage. The reshoring of production has seen US robot density expand significantly – particularly in the automotive sector. In fact, in terms of density, the US ranked second in 2016, after South Korea with 1,261 installed robots per 10,000 employees. Most of its industrial robots are imported from Japan, Korean and Europe.
The top five markets for the supply of industrial robots account for 74% of total supply. By 2020, more than 1.7 million new industrial robots will be installed in factories around the world, reinforcing the importance of flexible automation to drive down costs and protect businesses from future domestic labour shortages.