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Global robot sales soar by 37% to set a new record

29 May, 2012

Last year was the most successful ever for industrial robots, with about 165,000 being sold worldwide – a 37% increase on the 2010 total. Announcing the figures at the recent Automatica exhibition in Germany, Arturo Baroncelli, vice-president of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), said that, following the global economic crisis, the sales figures “exceeded all our expectations”.

Baroncelli expects robot sales to increase further during 2012 to hit a new peak, although the growth rate with slow down. “The use of robots always guarantees fast return on investments and dramatic improvements in terms of quality,” he adds. “And this is true both in the car and the general industry, both in emerging countries and in nations having a long industrial tradition.”

Leading the robot sales growth have been China, the US and Germany, which all hit new sales peaks in 2011 and recorded growth rates in the range 39–51%.

Japan and Korea remain the world’s biggest robot markets, although not the fastest-growing. In Japan, almost 28,000 industrial robots were sold during 2011 – 27% more than in 2010 – while sales in Korea increased by 9% to reach 25,500.

China bought almost 22,600 industrial robots during 2011 and is expected to become the world’s largest robot market by 2014.

In Brazil, robot sales during 2011 exceeded 1,400 – a 125% increase on 2010 – while a surge in sales in India could represent a breakthrough for robotics and automation in that country.

The automotive and metals industries were the main drivers of the growth in robot sales during 2011. Continuing modernisation and increasing production capacities in emerging markets were the key reasons.

More than 2.3 million industrial robots have now been sold around the world since the first robot was installed in 1961.

The IFR will publish full details of the global market for industrial robots in August.

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