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China now has more industrial robots per 10,000 workers than the United States, according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). This is the first time China has surpassed the United States in robot density.
In 2021, China averaged 322 industrial robots for every 10,000 employees. According to the IFR, China saw a huge jump in robot installations in 2021. The country’s industrial robotics market saw 243,300 installations last year, a 44% increase from the year before.
Those installations are evident in China’s jump from being tied for the ninth most automated country worldwide in 2020 to being the fifth most automated country in 2021, surpassing Chinese Taipai, the United States, Hong Kong and Sweden in robot density.
“Robot density is a key indicator of automation adoption in the manufacturing industry around the world,” says Marina Bill, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “The new average of global robot density in the manufacturing industry surged to 141 robots per 10,000 employees – more than double the number six years ago. China’s rapid growth shows the power of its investment so far, but it still has much opportunity to automate.”
The top four most automated countries, South Korea, Singapore, Japan and Germany, remained the same from 2020 to 2021. South Korea reached an all-time high of 1,000 industrial robots per 10,000 employees. South Korea’s electronics industry and automotive sector both contribute greatly to the country’s overall robot density.
Following South Korea is Singapore, with 670 robots per 10,000 employees. Singapore has seen consistent growth in recent years in the number of industrial robots in the country. Since 2016, it averaged a 24% increase in robot density each year.
After Singapore, there’s a big dropoff in density. Japan comes in third, with 399 robots for every 10,000 workers. While Japan is only the third most automated country, it is the top manufacturer of industrial robots, according to the IFR. The country manufactures 45% of the global supply of industrial robots.
Germany is the fourth most automated country worldwide, with 397 robots for every 10,000 workers, and the most automated European country.
The United States has dropped from being the seventh most automated country in 2020, to being the ninth in 2021. Still, its robot density grew from 255 robots for every 10,000 workers in 2020, to 274 robots in 2021.
As a whole, robot installations hit an all-time high in 2021, according to the IFR. The IFR’s report showed that 517,385 new industrial robots were installed in 2021 in factories around the world.
Robot installations grew by 31% year-over-year in 2021. They exceeded the pre-pandemic record of robot installations in 2018 by 22%. The stock of operational robots around the world also hit a new record of about 3.5 million units.