In 2014, robot sales increased by 29% to 229,261 units, by far the highest level ever recorded for one year. Sales of industrial robots to all industries increased compared to 2013. The automotive parts suppliers and the electrical/electronics industry were the main drivers of the growth. China has considerably expanded its leading position as the biggest market with a share of 25% of the total supply in 2014.
Since 2010, the demand for industrial robots has accelerated considerably due to the ongoing trend toward automation and the continued innovative technical improvements of industrial robots. Between 2010 and 2014, the average robot sales increase was at 17% per year (CAGR). The number of robot installations had never increased so heavily before. Between 2005 and 2008, the average annual number of robots sold was about 115,000 units. Between 2010 and 2014, the number rose to about 171,000 units. This is an increase of about 48% and a clear sign of the significant rise in demand for industrial robots worldwide.
There are five major markets representing 70% of the total sales volume in 2014: China, Japan, the United States, the Republic of Korea and Germany. 57,096 industrial robots were sold in 2014 in China, 56% more than in 2013. Thereof, Chinese robot suppliers installed about 16,000 units according to the information from the China Robot Industry Alliance (CRIA). Their sales volume was about 78% higher than in 2013. This was partly due to an increasing number of companies that reported their sales data for the first time in 2014. Foreign robot suppliers increased their sales by 49% to 41,100 units, including robots produced by international robot suppliers in China. China, by far the biggest market for industrial robots, is also the fastest growing market worldwide. This rapid development is unique in the history of robotics. There has never been such dynamic rise in such a short period of time in any other market. A wide range of industries have been increasingly investing in automation. Between 2010 and 2014, total supply of industrial robots increased by about 40% per year on average.
In 2014, the sales value increased by 13% to a new peak at US$10.7 billion. It should be noted that the figures cited above generally do not include the cost of software, peripherals and systems engineering. Including the mentioned costs might result in the actual robotic systems’ market value to be about three times as high. The worldwide market value for robot systems in 2014 is therefore estimated to be US$32 billion.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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