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Japan manufacturers 45% of the global supply of industrial robots, according to a recent report from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), making them the top manufacturer of industrial robots in the world.
The country has rapidly been increasing its production capacity. In 2020, its export ratio rose 78%, with 136,069 robots shipped. Japan is also a highly automated country, ranking third on the IFR’s list of most automated countries in 2020.
Japan’s top markets for exporting industrial robots are China and the United States.
“Exports of Japanese industrial robots on average had a compound annual growth rate of 6% in the last five years”, Milton Guerry, president of the IFR, said. “At the same time, imports of robots have always been extremely low. In 2020, only 2% of Japanese installations were imported. The domestic Japanese robot market is the second largest in the world after China.”
Exports to China
36% of Japanese robotics and automation exports went to China. Japanese manufacturers, like many other international suppliers, have an advantage in China, as they have factories in China to serve the market directly. This was especially an advantage during the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted international supply chains.
China is also aggressively growing its robotics sector. From 2015 to 2020 it went from being the twenty-fifth most automated country in the world, to the ninth, according to the IFR. In 2020, China had 246 industrial robots for every 10,000 workers.
Besides increasing the number of robots at work in the country, China is looking to make its robotics industry a key source of global robotics innovation with its latest five-year plan for robotics. The plan set out five tasks for improvement, which included expanding the depth and breadth of robotic applications within the country, developing new technologies and further standardizing its robotics industry.
According to the IFR, China has been increasing the number of installations by domestic industries, even though foreign installations make up the bulk of them. In 2020, domestic companies installed 45,347 robots, compared to 123,030 foreign installations.
Exports to the United States
As Japan’s second biggest industrial robot market, the U.S. makes up 22% of its industrial robot exports. According to the IFR, the U.S. is likely to rebound more from the COVID-19 pandemic, possibly making room for more Japanese exports.
In 2020, the U.S. was the seventh most automated country worldwide. There were about 255 industrial robots for every 10,000 employees in the country.