Global sales of industrial robots shoots up

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Global sales of industrial robots rose by 29% between 2016 and 17, reaching a new record of 380,550 units, according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

China saw the largest growth in demand for industrial robots, which increased by 58%, and the automotive sector continues to lead global demand, growing by 21% last year.

The strongest growth sectors in 2017 were the metal industry (+54%), the electrical/electronics industry (+27%) and the food industry (+19%).

China installed around 138,000 industrial robots in 2017, followed by South Korea with around 40,000 units and Japan with around 38,000 units. In the Americas, the USA is the largest single market with around 33,000 industrial robots sold, and in Europe it is Germany with around 22,000 units sold.

“The growth of industrial robots continues at an impressive pace worldwide,” says Junji Tsuda, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “Key trends such as digitalisation, simplification and human-robot collaboration will certainly shape the future and drive forward rapid development.”

The IFR predicts that industrial robots should become easier and faster to program using intuitive procedures. This, it believes, will pave the way for the third major robotics trend: collaboration between humans and robots without protective barriers, which should offer new approaches to flexible production processes. In the future human-robot collaboration will support the flexible production of small quantities with high complexity, the IFR adds.