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Global industrial robot sales doubled over the past five years, says IFR

The International Federation of Robotics has released its annual World Robotics Report at a press conference at the World Robot Summit in Tokyo.

One of the main findings of the report is that global industrial robot sales have doubled over the past five years.

Another is that a new record high of 381,000 units were shipped globally in 2017 – an increase of 30 percent compared to the previous year.

The sales value increased by 21 percent compared to 2016 to a new peak of $16.2 billion in 2017.

The World Robotics Report which is published every year by the IFR was presented during a press conference held by the IFR at the bi-annual World Robot Summit which currently takes place in Tokyo. 

Some of the main findings show that the investments in industrial robots keep increasing. In fact, the global industrial robot sales doubled from 2013 to 2017 (114 percent) and the outlook for the next three years (2018-2021) estimates that the global sales will increase 14 percent per year on average.

Esben Østergaard, co-founder and CTO at Universal Robots, says: “As with previous reports from IFR, the findings this year is in line with our own experiences at Universal Robots.

“We also see a significant interest and desire to automate processes and more and more companies – no matter the size – are realizing the benefits of robots in their manufacturing setups.”

In the 2018 report the IFR highlights many cutting-edge technologies such as the concept of man-machine collaboration and easy programming which will help improve the productivity of manufacturing and expand the area of robot applications.

Østergaard says: “Robotic automation improves consistency of quality and consistency of flow. Collaborative robots – in its essence man-machine collaboration – are especially compelling as they work together with human workers instead of replacing them.

“We definitely see an accelerating demand for consumer goods that display an element of ‘the human touch’ along with consistently high quality.”

Universal Robots has always believed in easy programming which is one of the reasons the company is market leader within collaborative robots today.

Østergaard adds: “Making it easy to understand and program our cobots has been a part of our DNA since the very beginning. We actually define ‘collaborative’ by the ease-of-use and ease of integration.

“That is what really sets us apart from our competitors and I’m pleased that IFR highlights that as cutting-edge as I couldn’t agree more.”

The report sees a growing demand for robotic automation specifically within the auto industry, electronics, and the metal industry.

Five major markets – China, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Germany – represented 73 percent of the total sales volume in 2017 which corresponds with Universal Robots’ experience as key markets.