Industrial robot sales have recovered strongly in 2021, with a new record of 486,800 units shipped worldwide – a 27% increase from the previous year – according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).
Asia dominated in both growth and overall sales. Installs in Asia/Australia increased 33% to 354,500 units. America was up 27% with 49,400 units sold. Europe saw double-digit growth of 15% with 78,000 units installed. Africa and the Middle East are not included in the report due to low sales volumes in these regions.
“Robot installations around the world have rebounded strongly, making 2021 the most successful year ever for the robotics industry,” said Milton Guerry, President of the IFR. “Due to the ongoing trend towards automation and continued technological innovation, demand reached high levels across all industries. 2021 even surpassed the pre-pandemic record of 422,000 installations per year in 2018.”
The main growth driver in 2021 was the electronics industry (132,000 installations, +21%), which had already replaced the automotive industry (109,000 installations, +37%) as the largest buyer of industrial robots in 2020.
In 2021, industrial robot installations in Europe recovered after two years of decline, surpassing the 2018 peak of 75,600 units. Demand from the main user, the automotive industry, moved sideways at high levels (19,300 installations, +/-0%) . Demand for metal and machinery (15,500 installations, +50%) has risen sharply, followed by plastic and chemical products (7,700 installations, +30%).
In America, the number of industrial robot installations reached the second-best result ever, surpassed only by the record year 2018 (55,200 installations). The largest American market, the United States, delivered 33,800 units – this corresponds to a market share of 68%.
Asia remains the world’s largest market for industrial robots: 73% of all newly deployed robots in 2021 were installed in Asia. A total of 354,500 units were delivered in 2021, 33% more than in 2020. The electronics industry took by far the largest number of units (123,800 installations, +22%), followed by strong demand from the automotive industry (72,600 installations, +57%) and metal and engineering industry (36,400 installations, +29%).