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IFR Says Robot Density Globally has Doubled Since 2015

KUKA IFR density400x275

December 14, 2021

The International Federation of Robotics said the use of industrial robots in factories around the world is accelerating at a high rate – 126 robots per 10,000 employees is the new global average for robot density in manufacturing. This is nearly double the number from five years ago (66 units per 10,000 in 2015). 

The IFR issued these numbers as part of the 2021 World Robot Statistics, which also ranked robot density by region and country. For example, the top five most automated countries in the world are South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Germany, and Sweden.

“Robot density is the barometer to track the degree of automation adoption in the manufacturing industry around the world,” said Milton Guerry, president of the IFR.

By region, the average robot density is 134 units for Asia/Australia; 123 units for Europe and 111 units per 10,000 employees in the Americas.

Asia is tops, with China rising

The IFR said the development of robot density in China is the most dynamic. Due to significant growth of robot installations, the density rate has risen from 49 units in 2015 to 246 units in 2020. China now ranks 9th globally, compared to 25th in 2015.

Asia also holds the country with the world’s highest robot density in manufacturing: South Korea, which has held this position since 2010. Singapore takes second place, with a rate of 605 robots per 10,000 employees in 2020.

Japan is third, with 390 robots per 10,000 employees in manufacturing. Japan continues to be the world’s top industrial robot manufacturer, with Japanese manufacturers delivering 45% of the global robot supply.

IFR RobotDensity2020 800px

The U.S. and Europe

Robot density in the U.S. rose from 176 units in 2015 to 255 units in 2020, giving it the ranking of 7th in the world.  The IFR said modernization of domestic production facilities has boosted robot sales in the U.S. “The use of industrial robots also aids to achieve decarbonation targets, for example in the cost-efficient production of solar panels and in the continued transition towards electric vehicles,” the IFR said. In addition, several car manufacturers have announced investments to equip factories for new electric car drive models, or to increase capacity for battery production, which should create demand for industrial robots in the next few years.

In Europe, Germany remains at fourth place globally, with 371 units per 10,000 employees. The IFR said this country had a share of 33% of total robot sales in Europe during 2020. The IFR said Germany’s robotics industry is recovering, driven by strong overseas business rather than by domestic or European markets. Robot demand in Germany is expected to grow slowly, supported mainly by demand for low-cost robots in general industries and outside traditional manufacturing, the IFR said.

In the U.K., while the robot density is below the world average (101 units per 10,000), the IFR said the exodus of foreign labor after Brexit increased the demand for robots in 2020. “This situation is expected to prevail in the near future,” as the modernization of the U.K. manufacturing industry will also be boosted by massive tax incentives. For example, the “super deduction” lets companies claim 130% of capital allowances as a tax relief for plant and machinery investments from  April 2021 through March 2023.

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