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13 July, 2024

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Global sales of robots dipped slightly during 2012

01 July, 2013

Global sales of industrial robots during 2012 were the second-highest on record, according to the latest figures issued by the International federation of Robotics (IFR). More than 159,000 robots were sold worldwide – almost as high as the record figure of 165,000 achieved in 2011.

The slight slowdown was due to a reduction in take-up by the electronics manufacturing, and metal and machinery sectors. However, sales of industrial robots to the automotive industry grew by 6%, while the chemicals, rubber and plastics sector, and the food industry, raised their order levels.

Between 2008 and 2012, global robot sales increased by an average of 9% per year. Dr Andreas Bauer, chairman of the IFR’s industrial robot suppliers group, predicts that sales of robots during 2013 will be similar to those in 2012.

About 70% of all industrial robots sold during 2012 went to just five countries: Japan, China, the US, Korea and Germany.

Japan remains the world’s biggest market for industrial robots, with sales increasing slightly during 2012 to 28,700. While the Japanese electronics industry cut back considerably on investment in robotics, the automotive industry boosted its robot orders by 31%. But sales are still far below their peak of 44,000, achieved in 2005.

China is now the world’s second-largest and fastest-growing robot market with sales increasing by an average of about 25% per year between 2005 and 2012. During 2012, sales rose slightly to about 23,000.

Global sales of robots for automotive applications rose by 6% last year

Industrial robot sales in the US hit a new peak of 22,400 during 2012, with the automotive industry, in particular, spending more on robotics.

Robot supplies to the Republic of Korea fell by almost 24% to 19,400, following strong investments during 2010 and 2011 by the automotive and the electronics industries.

In Germany, the automotive industry cut back its investment in industrial robots considerably last year, while orders for general industrial applications increased.  

The IFR predicts that the use of robots for general industrial applications will grow substantially when robots collaborate more closely with workers, and when integrating robots becomes easier. In particular, it sees the use of easy-to-integrate robots as offering “enormous potential” for machine tool applications.   

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