Industrial robot installment at an all-time high – report

Industrial robot installment reaches a global peak, with more than half a million units put to work in 2021, a report says.

Factories across the world installed 517,385 industrial robots last year, which is an “all-time high,” a new report published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) says.

It's an increase of 31% from the year before and exceeds the pre-pandemic record set in 2018 by 22%. The stock of operational robots has reached a record high of about 3.5 million units worldwide.

“The use of robotics and automation is growing at a breathtaking speed,” IFR President Marina Bill said in a press release.

Installations grew strongly last year although “supply chain disruptions as well as different local or regional headwinds hampered production,” Bill added.

Image by IFR.

According to the report, Asia remains the world’s largest industrial robot market, accounting for 74% of all newly deployed units in 2021.

China alone had 268,195 robots shipped last year, representing a 51% growth. Every other unit installed globally last year was in China.

Japan is the world’s second-largest market for industrial robots, with installations picking up again in 2021 after two years of decline. 47,182 units were installed across Japan last year, representing a 22% growth, according to IFR.

Japan is also the world’s predominant robot manufacturer, with exports receiving a record high of 186,102 units last year.

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The US, the world’s third largest industrial robot market, was slower to pick up the pace, growing 14% to 34,987 units in 2021, which exceeded the pre-pandemic level, but was still much lower than the peak level in 2018, the IFR said.

Robot installations in South Korea, the fourth largest market, increased for the first time in five years. 31,083 units were installed in South Korea in 2021, representing a 2% growth, according to the report.

Germany, the largest robot market in Europe, rounds up the global top five installing 23,777 units in 2021, or 6% more.

Canada, Italy, and Mexico were the fastest growing markets, each growing at over 60%, while Singapore is the only market in the top 15 that declined, recording a 1% decrease.

The IFR projects 570,000 more industrial robots will be installed this year, representing a 10% increase from 2021.

“The post-pandemic boom experienced in 2021 is expected to fade out in 2022. From 2022 to 2025, average annual growth rates in the medium to upper single-digit range are forecast,” it said.

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