Factories worldwide are set to install more than 1.7 million new industrial robots by 2020, according to the new International Federation of Robotics World Robotics 2017 Industrial Robots report published today.
There were about 1.8 million operating industrial robots at the end of 2016, marking an expected 14% annual growth rate between 2018 and 2020.
“Robots offer high levels of precision and their connectivity will play a key role in new digital manufacturing environments,” president Joe Gemma said in a press release. “Increasing availability enables more and more manufacturers from companies of all sizes to automate.”
In fact, a trend that could be driving this increased adoption is that small- and medium-sized manufacturers are also looking to automate. This is made possible by the introduction of robots that are easier to program and are more versatile, allowing manufacturers with fewer specialized in-house engineers to run a robotic production line. In addition, industrial robots are becoming more accessible as robot producers consider leasing models.
“Robots now are more viable for small-to-medium-sized manufacturers for whom the capital investment cost of industrial robots and programming complexity have so far presented obstacles,” Gemma said in a prepared statement. “The increasing availability and competitive pricing of collaborative robots — small, mobile, dexterous and easily programmable robots that work outside of cages and generally together with a human worker — enables manufacturers to automate short or mixed production runs that require high levels of precision and sophisticated vision and handling capabilities.”
As the globe sees an increase in automation, China dominates the industrial robot market, producing 30% of the total supply in 2016 and selling 87,000 units. Following China are South Korea with the world’s highest robot density and 2016 sales of 41,400 units, Japan with sales of 38,600 units, the U.S. with 31,400 unit installations in 2016 and Germany with 2016 sales of 20,039 units and the the largest market in Europe.