Industry focuses on automation. Record sales of industrial robots



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Nearly 2.7 million industrial robots are already in use in factories around the world. According to the World Robotics 2020 report, despite the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, sales of new devices remain at a high level.

Globally, COVID-19 has a strong impact on 2020 – but also offers the opportunity to modernize production on the way out of the crisis. The benefits in the long run are still the same – faster and cheaper production. Automation enables manufacturers to maintain production in advanced economies – or reuse it – without sacrificing cost-effectiveness.

Many companies operating in the industrial sector decide to automate the production line to a greater or lesser extent. They often invest in very expensive machines that perform a specific job or commission the creation of new solutions. The range of industrial robots is constantly expanding – from traditional cage robots, able to handle all loads quickly and precisely, to new collaborative robots that work safely alongside people, fully integrated with workbenches. I am talking about the so-called Cobots. Cobots are flexible, fully programmable robotic arms that can be adapted to work in various industries: agriculture, food, furniture, electronics, metalworking, automotive, plastics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, etc. Their main advantage is that they are lightweight and can work in close proximity to humans without additional safety guards. They bridge the gap between a fully automated production line designed by engineers for engineers and manual assembly lines.

“The resources of industrial robots working in factories around the world are now at their highest ever level,” said Milton Guerry, president of the International Robotics Federation. As he points out, in 2020 there was a slowdown in the industry as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but 2021 and the following years will completely change the production of the industry. It was the supply chain that was most affected by the pandemic.

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Where are industrial robots most often used? According to the report, most orders for robots come from the automotive industry and factories producing electronics. They are used for moving and assembling elements, composition and welding. Interestingly, the number of companies that manufacture robots not only for industry, but also for consumers (e.g. cleaning robots), or typically for entertainment, has also increased. In 2020, it amounted to 1,854 companies, of which every fifth is a startup.

Which countries invest the most in robotization of the industry?

Asia remains the strongest market for industrial robots. As you can guess, China is the largest recipient of industrial automation. According to the report, in 2019 there was an increase in device purchases by 21 percent and the total number of devices in China amounted to 783,000 units. The second country in Asia that uses the most robots is Japan with 355,000. pieces. Another interesting fact is India, which has doubled the number of industrial robots working in factories over the past five years. Their number is currently around 26,500. The share of newly installed robots in Asia accounted for about two-thirds of global supply. Sales of nearly 140,500 new robots in China are below record-high 2018 and 2017, but are still more than twice as high as five years ago

In China, the vast majority of 71% of new robots were sourced from foreign suppliers. Chinese producers continue to supply mainly to the domestic market where they are gaining more and more market shares. Foreign suppliers supply around 29% of their units to the automotive industry, while Chinese suppliers only supply around 12%. Hence, foreign suppliers are more affected by the collapse of the Chinese auto industry than domestic suppliers.

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In the case of Europe, Germany is the country that buys the most industrial robots. Their number is close to 221,500. This is three times more than in Italy (74,400), five times more than in France (42,000) and about ten times more than in the United Kingdom (21,700). How does Poland fare against this background? Pretty good. Our country is in the group of 15 world economies that have completed the most new robotic installations in industry (Poland is in 14th place).

The US is the largest user of industrial robots in the Americas, hitting a new record of around 293,200 units (an increase of 7%). Mexico is second with 40,300 units, followed by Canada with around 28,600 units. New installations in the US slowed by 17% in 2019 compared to the record-breaking 2018. Most robots in the US are imported from Japan and Europe. While there are not many robot manufacturers in North America, there are many important companies that assemble these systems.

What will the automation of the industry look like in the coming years?

-In 2020, we can observe a clear decrease in orders due to the global pandemic. However, robot suppliers are constantly adapting and developing new solutions for the industry. The sector will recover in 2021, but it may take until 2022 or 2023 to reach pre-crisis levels, explains the president of the International Robotics Federation. As he adds, China may be an exception, as it started rebuilding production in the second quarter of 2020.


Jakub Markiewicz
Jakub Markiewicz
Hi, I am the author of the blog and series of thematic portals since 2013. I have nearly 15 years of experience in working in the media, marketing, public relations and IT. If you are interested in cooperation, you would like me to write about something or test a product - let me know.
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