10 Industrial and Service Robotics Trends in the IFR’s World Robotics 2021 Report

The International Federation of Robotics has released its annual report on global robotics shipments from 2020, and it expects strong growth to continue despite the pandemic.

International Federation of Robotics

IFR members reported installations of both industrial and service robots for 2020.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of industrial robots grew in 2020, reported the International Federation of Robotics today. The number of robots operating in factories worldwide increased by 10% to a total of 3 million, according to the World Robotics 2021 Industrial Robots report.

Sales grew a mere 0.5% last year, with 383,500 units shipped globally. The growth in China offset the contractions of other markets, said the IFR. The past year was the third most successful year in history for the robotics industry, following 2018 and 2017.

Annual turnover of robots was more than $50 billion last year, including software and peripherals but not autonomous vehicles, drones, or business-process automation, said Milton Guerry, president of the IFR and president of Schunk USA.

China remains the largest market for robotics, and South Korea has the highest robot density, or number of robots per 10,000 human workers, according to the IFR. Some countries, such as Singapore, Sweden, and Denmark, have a relatively high rate of automation but smaller populations, noted the Frankfurt, Germany-based nonprofit organization.

Robot density by country, 2020

Source: International Federation of Robotics

Robotics market increases after 2019 dip

While robot shipments dipped from 422,000 in 2018 to 382,000 in 2019, that was because of a temporary, pre-pandemic decline in manufacturing, according to the IFR.

“Two main industries were affected in 2019,” said Dr. Susanne Bieller, general secretary of the IFR. “In automotive, there were fewer new vehicles, and the electronics industry experienced lower demand, postponing installations.” She also noted that “political headwinds” between the U.S. and China delayed robotics investments.

“We don't expect a long-term decline,” added Dr. Christopher Müller, director of the IFR's statistical department. “Automakers already have a high degree of automation. We are in a transitioning process to electric vehicles. Battery-driven vehicles may have fewer components, but the main jobs of robots are still welding chassis and moving heavy parts. We also have battery production, which is something where robots are crucial.”

The operational stock of robots has increased by 10% since 2019, and it experienced a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9% from 2015 to 2020, said Müller.

“The level of installations has been climbing over the past decade,” he said. “There was slowed growth in electrical, but increases nearly everywhere else.”

Robot installations by industry, 2020

Source: International Federation of Robotics

The IFR's 350-page World Robotics 2021 reports for industrial robots and service robots can be ordered online.

See the slideshow (top right) for noteworthy robotics trends in this year's reports.

About the Author

Eugene Demaitre's avatar
Eugene Demaitre

Eugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.

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International Federation of Robotics

IFR members reported installations of both industrial and service robots for 2020.

Related Slideshow

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