The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) Statistical Department presented the preliminary results of the annual detailed statistics for industrial robots recently at the AUTOMATE exhibition in Chicago. In 2010, with more than 115,000 industrial robots shipped, the number of units sold worldwide almost doubled with 2009 being the lowest year since the early 1990s. "The prospects for 2011 and beyond are promising," commented Åke Lindqvist, IFR President. "The robotics industry benefits from the increasing demand for automation especially in the Asian markets with China on top." In 2011 a further increase of robot sales between 10 and 15 percent is expected. A new peak level of about 130,000 sold units could be reached. Between 2012 and 2014 a moderate annual growth in average of five percent is more likely.
The possible impact of the recent tsunami in Japan on the worldwide supply chain has not been taken into consideration in preparing the forecasts. "The whole world is concerned about the terrible catastrophe in Japan and the consequences which are still not fully apparent. On behalf of the IFR community, I would like to express my deepest sympathy to our Japanese colleagues. In these days our thoughts are with all the people in Japan. We wish the situation would improve and the country would recover from this disaster soon", stated Lindqvist.
The recovery of robot installations continues in Europe and in the Americas. The automotive industry is continuing to implement new technologies and use new materials which will require new manufacturing lines. The application of robots in other industries i.e. the food and beverage industry and the pharmaceutical industry will further increase. The growing demand in alternative energy sources after the recent nuclear catastrophe in Japan will also push robot installations, e.g. the production of solar cells etc. Improvements in safety, flexibility, accuracy and ease of use of robots will facilitate access to new markets. Robots will penetrate areas with a still low rate of automation. Small companies will start using robots in order to stay competitive.
More detailed information on the final results of robot sales in 2010 by country, by application and by industry, analyses on robot density, detailed forecasts, special features on robotics and case studies on innovative applications of industrial robots will be published in World Robotics 2011 Industrial Robots this summer.