Target 2020: The Industrial Robotics Boom
In the next few years, industrial robots are set to rapidly proliferate in factories across the world, finding a place in everything from major smart factories to the workshops of SMEs. We look at the latest data from the International Federation of Robotics to find out what’s in store
three-quarters of the world’s robots in Five markets
Industrial robots are already in prolific use in manufacturing, with around 1.8 million units in operation as of 2016.
However, their use is largely confined to a small number of countries. In 2016, 74% of industrial robots were sold in just four territories: China, Japan, South Korea, Germany and the US.
To the surprise of no one, China leads the way with 87,000 units sold in 2016, while South Korea and Japan come second and third, with 41,400 and 38,000 respectively.
The US comes in fourth, selling 31,400 units, while Germany was the fifth largest territory for industrial robotics sales in 2016, totalling 20,039.
1.7 million additional robots to be installed by 2020
While the number of installed robots is already high, it is set to rise by over a third within the next three years.
With rising demand in multiple sectors, the International Federation of Robotics predicts that by 2020 the number of industrial robots operating across the world will rise from 1,828,000 to 3,053,000: an average annual growth rate of 14%.
Annual supply of industrial robots by year
Units in millions
Industrial robots and the rise of smart factories
While the growth in industrial robots will in part be fuelled by growth in countries with lower levels of adoption, the rise in smart factories is set to play a key role.
Over the next few years manufacturers will increasingly be integrating robotics into factory-wide networks, which will respond to real-time data connected to networked sensors.
This will be paired with a rise in cloud robotics, enabling behaviours and actions learned by one robot to be rapidly disseminated to others within a network, providing greater efficiency and improved operations.
SMEs fuel the robotics boom
The other area set to see significant growth is small-to-medium enterprises.
As more companies offer leasing models,
the barrier to entry is rapidly dropping with industrial robots, allowing smaller companies to make use of the production improvements and efficiency savings they offer.
For this to happen as predicted, however, robotics manufacturers will need to ensure both ease of use and ease of integration.