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China Overtakes USA in Robot Density – IFR Reports

beijingwalker

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China Overtakes USA in Robot Density – IFR Reports

December 05, 2022 07:20 AM


FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany--(BUSINESS WIRE)--China’s massive investment in industrial robotics has put the country in the top ranking of robot density, surpassing the United States for the first time. The number of operational industrial robots relative to the number of workers hit 322 units per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry. Today, China ranks in fifth place. The world’s top 5 most automated countries in manufacturing 2021 are: South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Germany and China. This is according to the World Robotics 2022 report, presented by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

“The new average of global robot density in the manufacturing industry surged to 141 robots per 10,000 employees – more than double the number six years ago. China’s rapid growth shows the power of its investment so far, but it still has much opportunity to automate.”
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“Robot density is a key indicator of automation adoption in the manufacturing industry around the world,” says Marina Bill, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “The new average of global robot density in the manufacturing industry surged to 141 robots per 10,000 employees – more than double the number six years ago. China’s rapid growth shows the power of its investment so far, but it still has much opportunity to automate.”

Robot density by region

Asia’s
average robot density surged by 18% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) since 2016 to 156 units per 10,000 employees in 2021. The European robot density had been growing by 8% (CAGR) in the same period of time reaching 129 units. In the Americas it was 117 robots – plus 8% (CAGR).

Top countries

The Republic of Korea hit an all-time high of 1,000 industrial robots per 10,000 employees in 2021. This is more than three times the number reached in China and makes the country number one worldwide.

Singapore takes second place with a rate of 670 robots per 10,000 employees in 2021.

There is a remarkable gap to Japan (399 robots per 10,000 employees) which ranks third. Japan’s robot density had grown by 6% on average each year since 2016. Germany in fourth place (397 units) is the largest robot market in Europe.

China is by far the fastest growing robot market in the world. The country has the highest number of annual installations, and since 2016 it has each year had the largest operational stock of robots.

United States

Robot density in the United States rose from 255 units in 2020 to 274 units in 2021. The country ranks ninth in the world, down from seventh.

FULL TEXT: https://ifr.org/ifr-press-releases/

 

beijingwalker

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This is especially remarkable with China's massive overall labor force.

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With increased productivity thanks to automation, China needs to focus on improving worker wellbeing, cutting down work hours and equalizing income levels. These pressing issues are directly affecting people's ability and willingness to have kids.
 

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Almost Half of Industrial Robots in The World Are in China​

PUBLISHED Sep 21, 2022

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A robot operates in a light truck production line at Beijing Automobile Factory in Jiangshan Town of Laixi city in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, April 28, 2022. (Stock photo.)

It may be comforting for American industry to think that it has a technological lead in manufacturing, even if the bulk of manufacturing is being done offshore. Of course, the U.S. has the most advanced manufacturing—the automation, the precision and industrial robots. We think of lights-out factories, with automated assembly lines, assembly-line robots amid a shower of sparks doing spot welding and driverless material handlers. If a soul would be in sight in such a setting, they would doubtless be American. We think of computerized assembly and manufacturing as a birthright—our superiority in AI and innovation, a force multiplier. Why, one our robots can do the work of a hundred foreign laborers, right?

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China is rapidly increasing its number of industrial robots. (Picture courtesy of IFR.)

It will be a shocker to read the recent report from the IFR, the International Federation of Robotics, which reveals that China now has almost half of all the world’s robot installations and that it is increasing its lead rapidly. The IFR, which exists to “promote research, development, use and international co-operation in the entire field of robotics,” has been reporting that China has been the world leader in implementing industrial robots for the last 8 years. We have not been paying attention. In 3 years, China has almost doubled the number of industrial robot installations. With its 243,000 robot installations in 2020, China has almost half of all the industrial robots in the world, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Germany, the country where Industry 4.0 originated and where the IFR was established in 1987, may well have been expecting to report on its lead in industry robots, only to have China steal the show.

A majority of new industrial robots are used in electronics manufacture (for circuit boards, consumer electronics, etc.) and in automobile assembly, particularly in the surging production of electric vehicles (EVs).

One must wonder why China, a country with so much cheap manual labor available, would opt for expensive robots with their special demands for tech support. China may have a giant population (1.4 billion people), but its workforce is actually decreasing, says the IFR, due to an increasing segment of its population aging and a growing competition for service jobs. China also expects a leveling off of its rural-to-urban migration.

China’s government is determined not to let a declining workforce cause a drop in manufacturing, and as only a centralized, authoritarian government can, it has made robotizing a national priority and has mobilized its forces.

China’s latest five-year plan for the robotics industry, released in December 2021 by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), aims for nothing less than making China a world leader in robot technology and industrial automation.

And it appears to be working. China went from 10 robots per ten thousand employees 10 years ago to 246 robots per ten thousand employees in 2020, the ninth best ranking in the world.

To keep the robots state of the art and operational, China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security introduced 18 new occupational titles in June, including “robotics engineering technician.”

 

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2021 was the biggest year for industrial robotics, but China dominates​

By Chris Middleton
October 14, 2022

SUMMARY:The latest facts and figures from the International Federation of Robotics highlight which countries are deploying robots and automating quickly and which are falling behind.

The world industrial robot market experienced stellar growth in 2021. That’s according to full-year figures presented by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) at its annual press conference yesterday.

Over half a million new units (517,000) were shifted worldwide, representing a year-on-year increase of 31% – the highest figures ever reported by the IFR – and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11% since 2016. The bumper year brings the world industrial robot population to roughly 3.5 million, said the organization.

Although by far the biggest number of sales, 478,000, were of traditional industrial machines, collaborative robots (cobots) saw year-on-year growth of 50% and 39,000 installations, revealing a trend towards more flexible, programmable devices that can work alongside humans, particularly in smaller factories.

Worldwide, the greatest demand for all types of industrial robot was in the high-tech electronics sector, with 137,000 new machines installed, representing year-on-year growth of 24%. However, the metal and machinery (45%) and automotive (42%) sectors saw even greater growth, with 119,000 and 64,000 robots installed, respectively. Plastics and chemical products (29%) and food manufacturing (18%) also witnessed significant growth.

In the US, however, adoption remains highest in the automotive sector, with 9,782 new robot installations: a year-on-year fall of seven percent. By contrast, demand is up in the US metal and machinery sector (66% year on year to 3,814 installations), plastics and chemicals (30%), and food manufacturing (25%). That said, demand fell year on year in the US high-tech electronics sector by 23%, against the global trend.

Overall, the market grew strongly in all three of the major regions for industrial robot sales: Asia and Australia (381,000 sales and YOY growth of 38%), Europe (84,000 and 24%), and the Americas (51,000 and 31%), with Asian sales driven strongly by automation in China.

At 268,200 new industrial robot installations, China alone accounts for nearly 52% of all global sales and 51% year-on-year growth, followed by Japan (47,200 installations, nine percent of sales, and YOY growth of 22%). Over the past five years, the CAGR of industrial robot demand in China has hit 23%.

By contrast, the US bought just 35,000 industrial robots, up 14% year on year. South Korea – previously acknowledged as the world’s most highly automated country – installed a further 31,000 (up two percent year on year) and Germany 23,800 (up six percent).

Of China’s extraordinary progress, Dr Christopher Müller, Director of the IFR Statistical Department, said:

We can see that China has a strong electronics industry, with strong demand: 38% growth in electronics is remarkable. But even more remarkably, the number of robots installed in the Chinese automotive industry has almost doubled at 97% year on year. This is driven by the intent of the Chinese automotive industry to not only increase the share of what they call new energy vehicles, but also other types.

A remarkable year

According to the IFR, several European countries are now seizing the opportunity to automate factories too, with strong growth in demand against the previous year. These include Italy (up 65% year on year), Poland (56%), and France (11%). Elsewhere, Canada (66% growth), Mexico (61%), India (54%) and Thailand (36%) are also automating fast. However, China, Japan, the US, South Korea, and Germany easily dominate the global market, with roughly three quarters of all robot sales between them.

The struggling UK, on which we reported earlier this week, appears to be nowhere in these tables, apparently still trailing a long way behind its key industrial competitors. This is a troubling conundrum for a country whose political focus is on growth and productivity – which robotics would aid.

New IFR President Marina Bill hailed the robotics industry’s global achievements, saying:

It's really been a remarkable year. And for those of you who were here at the press conference last year, my predecessor talked at that time about Covid as an ‘automation booster’. And we can clearly say looking at the figures for this year, that the automation booster has been ignited. It has been a very strong recovery from the pandemic years, with the highest number in history, over half a million units, being installed in 2021.
This growth has been in all geographies, all segments, and all applications. We can see that in six years, the number of installed robots has more or less duplicated [sic], which is, of course, a very remarkable development.
Among the short-term market determinants for industrial robot adoption are companies’ full order books, scarcity of raw materials and intermediate products, continued demand from the electronics sector, increasing political support, and labour scarcity in many developed economies. The latter is exacerbated by ageing populations and ‘the great resignation’ from many industries that followed the COVID-19 pandemic.

Longer-term drivers include low birth rates in many countries, impending retirement for baby-boomer workers, the growing need for elderly care, and what the IFR describes as a “massive labour shortage” looming in the years ahead. All of this promises more years of growth for the robotics industry, it said.

At the same time, the world robot market is “democratizing”, added the IFR. This will mean robots that are easier to use, programme, and redeploy, plus cheaper to buy. There is also a strong trend towards sustainable development and a smaller carbon footprint, with robots that are more energy efficient.

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