At a press conference this morning at AUTOMATICA 2014 in Munich, International Federation of Robotics (IFR) President Arturo Baroncelli announced that 179,000 industrial robots were sold in 2013, a 12% jump from 2012 and the highest number of units sold ever.
Further, he said that “Incoming orders in the first four months of 2014 increased remarkably and requests from customers are on the rise. Therefore, we expect that in 2014 growth of unit sales will continue with the same paces as in 2013.”
The IFR detailed those 179,000 robots and showed that almost 100,000 were installed in Asia/Australia and China was the biggest buyer with almost 36,560. Of those, about 9,000 units were provided by Chinese vendors; the remainder from Japanese, German and Swiss providers. Robot sales to China have increased yearly from 2009 to 2013 averaging 36% annually.
Japan was the number two buyer with 26,015, down 9% from 2012 because of reduced investments and the tsunami and Fukushima disasters.
The U.S. was the third largest buy with 23,679, up 6% from 2012.
Baroncelli cited five reasons that the trend towards automation is accelerating:
- The need to increase energy efficiency and the use of new materials.
- Global competiveness and the need for increased productivity and quality.
- Growing global consumer markets are creating the need for greater production capacities.
- Shorter life-cycles of products and an increasing variety of products.
- A growing awareness that robots improve the quality of work by taking over dull, dirty and dangerous jobs.
An IFR chart estimated that for 2014 the number will be 200,000 units, a 12% gain from 2013.
Stay tuned for more from AUTOMATICA 2014 in the following days and weeks.