2014 was another record year for robotics. The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) estimates that about 225,000 robots sold in 2014, 27% more than 2013’s best-year-ever record.
All regions did well but China and South Korea reached new peak levels. In total, about 140,000 units were sold in the region, by far the highest volume ever recorded.
China was the biggest destination of industrial robots in 2014. About 56,000 units were sold, 54% more than in 2013. Chinese robot suppliers delivered 16,000 units and international robot suppliers about 40,000 units.
China still imports three out of every four industrial robots and even those robots produced in-country often rely on imported parts and software. Nevertheless, the growth of robots provided by Chinese suppliers is notable.
South Korea was the second largest destination with about 39,000 units (attributable to considerable investment in the auto industry).
The IFR released this information at a press conference last month at Automate in Chicago. In addition to the exciting news of setting a new record for 2014 were the prospects for even higher figures for many years to come, particularly as smaller and more collaborative robots enter the SME marketplace. This optimism was evident all over the Automate show floor as almost every booth either had or made reference to collaborative robotics. At a previous IFR press conference a BMW robot executive said that, should their experiments using co-bots on the factory floor prove successful (and he thought they would), BMW could add a very large quantity of robots. When pushed for a number, he said that presently BMW had 7,500 robots at work but he could easily see adding another 15,000 co-bots.