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Robot density on the rise across the globe

11 February 2018

The automation of production is accelerating around the world according to the latest figures from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

The new average of global robot density in the manufacturing industries is 74 robot units per 10,000 employees. In 2015 it was just 66 units. By region, the average robot density in Europe is 99 units, in the Americas it is 84 and in Asia it is 3 units. The top 10 most automated countries in the world are now South Korea, Singapore, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, USA, Italy, Belgium and Taiwan.  

“Robot density is an excellent standard for comparison in order to take into account the differences in the automation degree of the manufacturing industry in various countries,” said Junji Tsuda, president of the International Federation of Robotics. “As a result of the high volume of robot installations in Asia in recent years, the region has the highest growth rate. Between 2010 and 2016, the average annual growth rate of robot density in Asia was 9%, in the Americas 7% and in Europe 5%.”

Europe's most automated country is Germany – ranking 3rd worldwide with 309 units. The annual supply and the operational stock of industrial robots in 2016 had a share of 36% and 41% respectively of total robot sales in Europe. Between 2018 and 2020, the annual supply in Germany is expected to continue to grow by at least 5% on average per year, due to the increasing demand for robots in the general industry and in the automotive industry.

France has a robot density of 132 units (ranking 18th in the world), which is well above the global average of 74 robots – but relatively weak compared to other EU countries. EU members like Sweden (223 units), Denmark (211 units), Italy (185 units) and Spain (160 units) enjoy a much higher degree of automation using industrial robots in the manufacturing segment. But under the new government, France is in the process of regaining competitiveness in its manufacturing sectors. This may, to a certain extent, promote installations of new robots in the next few years. In 2017, the number of robot installations in France is expected to increase by about 10 percent. Between 2018 and 2020, an average annual growth rate between 5 and 10 percent is likely.

As the only G7 country – the UK has a robot density below the world average of 74 units with 71 units, ranking 22nd. The general industry is in need of necessary investment in order to modernize and increase productivity. The low robot density rate is indicative of this fact. Despite the decision to leave the EU, there are currently many suggested investment plans for capacity expansion and modernisation of foreign and local automotive companies. It is not evident though whether companies will hold back investments due to uncertainties concerning customs duties.

The eastern European countries Slovenia (137 units, ranking 16th in the world) and Slovakia (135 units, ranking 17th worldwide), both have a robot density that is above Switzerland’s (128 units, ranking 19th in the world). The Czech Republic is ranking 20th on the global scale with 101 units. Robot supplies in the Czech Republic and Slovakia mainly depend on the automotive industry’s demand. Slovenia is the most successful among the Balkan countries with 60% of the total robot supply used mainly for the automotive industry (387 units, 33% more than in 2015).


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