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Chinese industrial robot sales will hit $1.3bn by 2017

07 January, 2014

The Chinese market for industrial robots will rise from $810m in 2012 to reach $1.3bn by 2017, according to a new report from the analyst IHS. Revenues will expand at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 10%, while unit sales will increase by about 13% per year, from more than 29,000 in 2012, to at least 52,000 by 2017.

“The growth rate for revenue is less than that of unit shipments because of the expanding market, fierce competition and technical advances, leading to price erosion,” explains IHS industrial automation analyst, Jay Tang.

Articulated robots dominate the market, accounting for 87% of sales in 2012, and will continue to do so through to 2017. Most of them are used for welding applications in the automotive sector.

IHS predicts that the fastest-growing robot technology in China between 2012 and 2017 will be Scara (selective compliance assembly robot arm) robots, because the industries in which they are used – such as food and beverage, consumer electronics and electronics/electrical – are facing labour shortages and rising labour costs.

The market for lower-cost linear robots is fragmented with individual suppliers focusing on niche markets, such as rubber and plastics, electronics and metal processing. These machines are suitable for simple tasks such as handling operations, assembly and machining.

How the Chinese market for industrial robots breaks down in 2012 and 2017 (percentage of revenues)
Source: IHS

The Chinese market for parallel robots is small with few suppliers and some experts believe that these robots will be replaced by articulated types which are getting faster. Parallel robots are used to pick up and assemble light payloads in the food, beverage, personal care and electronics industries.

IHS reports that the market for cylindrical robots is shrinking because of their limited dexterity. As articulated robot sizes and prices decrease, they offer more dexterity at competitive prices.

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