The world industrial robotic market skilled stellar progress in 2021. That’s in accordance with full-year figures offered by the Worldwide Federation of Robotics (IFR) at its annual press convention yesterday.
Over half 1,000,000 new models (517,000) have been shifted worldwide, representing a year-on-year improve of 31% – the best figures ever reported by the IFR – and a compound annual progress charge (CAGR) of 11% since 2016. The bumper yr brings the world industrial robotic inhabitants to roughly 3.5 million, mentioned the group.
Though by far the most important variety of gross sales, 478,000, have been of conventional industrial machines, collaborative robots (cobots) noticed year-on-year progress of fifty% and 39,000 installations, revealing a pattern in direction of extra versatile, programmable units that may work alongside people, significantly in smaller factories.
Worldwide, the best demand for every type of commercial robotic was within the high-tech electronics sector, with 137,000 new machines put in, representing year-on-year progress of 24%. Nonetheless, the metallic and equipment (45%) and automotive (42%) sectors noticed even better progress, with 119,000 and 64,000 robots put in, respectively. Plastics and chemical merchandise (29%) and meals manufacturing (18%) additionally witnessed vital progress.
Within the US, nonetheless, adoption stays highest within the automotive sector, with 9,782 new robotic installations: a year-on-year fall of seven p.c. In contrast, demand is up within the US metallic and equipment sector (66% yr on yr to three,814 installations), plastics and chemical compounds (30%), and meals manufacturing (25%). That mentioned, demand fell yr on yr within the US high-tech electronics sector by 23%, in opposition to the worldwide pattern.
General, the market grew strongly in all three of the key areas for industrial robotic gross sales: Asia and Australia (381,000 gross sales and YOY progress of 38%), Europe (84,000 and 24%), and the Americas (51,000 and 31%), with Asian gross sales pushed strongly by automation in China.
At 268,200 new industrial robotic installations, China alone accounts for almost 52% of all world gross sales and 51% year-on-year progress, adopted by Japan (47,200 installations, 9 p.c of gross sales, and YOY progress of twenty-two%). Over the previous 5 years, the CAGR of commercial robotic demand in China has hit 23%.
In contrast, the US purchased simply 35,000 industrial robots, up 14% yr on yr. South Korea – beforehand acknowledged because the world’s most extremely automated nation – put in an additional 31,000 (up two p.c yr on yr) and Germany 23,800 (up six p.c).
Of China’s extraordinary progress, Dr Christopher Müller, Director of the IFR Statistical Division, mentioned:
We will see that China has a robust electronics business, with robust demand: 38% progress in electronics is outstanding. However much more remarkably, the variety of robots put in within the Chinese language automotive business has nearly doubled at 97% yr on yr. That is pushed by the intent of the Chinese language automotive business to not solely improve the share of what they name new power automobiles, but additionally different varieties.
A outstanding yr
In line with the IFR, a number of European international locations are actually seizing the chance to automate factories too, with robust progress in demand in opposition to the earlier yr. These embody Italy (up 65% yr on yr), Poland (56%), and France (11%). Elsewhere, Canada (66% progress), Mexico (61%), India (54%) and Thailand (36%) are additionally automating quick. Nonetheless, China, Japan, the US, South Korea, and Germany simply dominate the worldwide market, with roughly three quarters of all robotic gross sales between them.
The struggling UK, on which we reported earlier this week, seems to be nowhere in these tables, apparently nonetheless trailing a great distance behind its key industrial rivals. It is a troubling conundrum for a rustic whose political focus is on progress and productiveness – which robotics would help.
New IFR President Marina Invoice hailed the robotics business’s world achievements, saying:
It is actually been a outstanding yr. And for these of you who have been right here on the press convention final yr, my predecessor talked at the moment about Covid as an ‘automation booster’. And we are able to clearly say trying on the figures for this yr, that the automation booster has been ignited. It has been a really robust restoration from the pandemic years, with the best quantity in historical past, over half 1,000,000 models, being put in in 2021.
This progress has been in all geographies, all segments, and all functions. We will see that in six years, the variety of put in robots has roughly duplicated [sic], which is, after all, a really outstanding improvement.
Among the many short-term market determinants for industrial robotic adoption are corporations’ full order books, shortage of uncooked supplies and intermediate merchandise, continued demand from the electronics sector, growing political help, and labour shortage in lots of developed economies. The latter is exacerbated by ageing populations and ‘the nice resignation’ from many industries that adopted the COVID-19 pandemic.
Longer-term drivers embody low start charges in lots of international locations, impending retirement for baby-boomer employees, the rising want for aged care, and what the IFR describes as a “huge labour scarcity” looming within the years forward. All of this guarantees extra years of progress for the robotics business, it mentioned.
On the identical time, the world robotic market is “democratizing”, added the IFR. It will imply robots which are simpler to make use of, programme, and redeploy, plus cheaper to purchase. There may be additionally a robust pattern in direction of sustainable improvement and a smaller carbon footprint, with robots which are extra power environment friendly.
Invaluable insights from an organzation that has lengthy had its finger on the heartbeat of robotic innovation. The message is obvious: Asia is automating quick to keep up its standing because the world’s low-cost manufacturing venue. Elements of Europe are catching up, and the US – whereas doing nicely – is shedding floor to China when it comes to modernising its factories.
So, what of the UK? It has made so little progress that it was largely absent from the IFR’s 2021 report. For one of many world’s largest economies, newly unbiased however more and more divided, that simply isn’t ok – significantly as robotics was one of many central pillars of the 2017 Industrial Technique.