The International Federation of Robotics reported today that 159,000 industrial robots were sold in 2012 — the second highest total in history, but down slightly from 166,028 units in 2011.
The decrease was mainly due to fewer sales in the electronics industry. In contrast, sales to the automotive industry rose 6 percent worldwide. Other industries that were up included the chemical, rubber and plastics industry as well as the food industry. Metal and machinery industry sales were down slightly.
About 70 percent of all sales went to five countries: Japan, China, the United Sates, Korea and Germany, in that order. Japan led the way with 28,700 units, which is impressive but well below its 2005 peak of 44,000 units. The U.S. hit a new peak 22,400 units, just behind hard-charging China’s 23,000 units. Although China was only up slightly this year, sales have grown at an average of 25 percent per year, making it the most rapidly growing market during that span. Sales to Korea decreased nearly 24 percent to 19,400 units after big years in 2010 and 2011. Outside the Top 5, Thailand is becoming a bigger market, with more than 4,000 units sold last year.
Between 2008 and 2012, the International Federation of Robotics says industrial robot sales have increased by an average of 9 percent each year, and after the strong sales of 2012, IFR expects a similarly robust number of robot installations in 2013.
The group’s complete “World Robotics 2013 Industrial Robots” report will be published in September.
[ photo courtesy of ABB ]