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From Site Selection magazine, January 2022

‘You Are My Density’

New robot concentration statistics provide a global barometer of advanced manufacturing.

The KUKA Toledo Production Operations (KTPO) in Toledo, Ohio, has
built all of the body-in-white Jeep® Wranglers sold in the world since it began operations in 2006, producing one unpainted vehicle body every 77 seconds.
Photo courtesy of KUKA and IFR


The 2021 World Robot Statistics released by the Frankfurt, Germany-based International Federation of Robotics in December show the rate of industrial robot use is accelerating at a speed to rival their efficient movements in factories.

The average global robot density of 126 robots per 10,000 employees is nearly double what it was in 2015 (66 units). Asia leads the way with 134 units per 10,000 employees, followed by Europe with 123 units and the Americas with 111 units. The top five most automated countries in the world are: South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Germany and Sweden.

“Robot density is the barometer to track the degree of automation adoption in the manufacturing industry around the world,” says Milton Guerry, president of the International Federation of Robotics.

The fastest-growing robot density is in China, where the rate rose from 49 units in 2015 to 246 in 2020. But the highest robot density continues to be in South Korea, where electronics and automotive have helped the country lead the way since 2010. The Republic of Korea claims 932 units per 10,000 workers — seven times the global average.
With 605 robots per 10,000 workers, Singapore is No. 2 in the Asia and in the world, followed by Japan with 390. Japan not only uses robots, but knows how to use them to make more robots: “The production capacity of Japanese suppliers reached 174,000 units in 2020,” says the IFR. “Today, Japan´s manufacturers deliver 45% of the global robot supply.”

‘Super-Deduction’ and Decarbonization Influence Robot Adoption

In Europe, Germany is No. 1 (and No. 4 worldwide) with 371 units per 10,000 workers, followed by Sweden (289), Denmark (246) and Italy (224). France comes in at No. 16 (194 units). The UK is No. 24 in the world at 101 units, but that’s up from 71 units in 2015. “The exodus of foreign labor after Brexit increased the demand for robots in 2020,” concludes the IFR. That trend is expected to continue, it says, with the modernization of UK manufacturing boosted by the “super-deduction” of massive tax incentives: From April 2021 until March 2023, companies can claim 130% of capital allowances as a tax relief for plant and machinery investments.

At 255 units per 10,000 employees (up from 176 in 2015), the United States now ranks No. 7 in the world, ahead of China. “The modernization of domestic production facilities has boosted robot sales in the United States,” says the IFR. “The use of industrial robots also aids to achieve decarbonization targets, e.g. in the cost-efficient production of solar panels and in the continued transition toward electric vehicles. Several car manufacturers have announced investments to further equip their factories for new electric drive car models or to increase capacity for battery production. These major projects will create demand for industrial robots in the next few years.”

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