This study analyzes the world market for automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulators used in industrial automation, and for semi- or fully autonomous machines that perform nonmanufacturing services. The study presents historical demand data (2001, 2006, 2011) and forecasts for 2016 and 2021 by robot type (industrial, service), market (e.g., electrical/electronics, automotive), world region and major country. The study also considers market environment factors, evaluates company market share and profiles industry players.
World demand to rise 10.5% annually through 2016
Global demand for robots is forecast to increase nearly 11 percent per year through 2016 to $20.2 billion, outpacing both the world’s economy and overall manufacturing activity. Robots can perform certain tasks faster and more accurately than humans can, which increases productivity and helps reduce overall costs. In developed countries, which tend to have higher labor costs, robots are often used to replace human workers. In developing countries, which
usually have an abundance of low cost labor, robot use is more concentrated in tasks that are difficult or dangerous for human workers. However, as wages rise in developing countries, the use of robots to replace human workers will increase, especially as advantages in end product quality and worker safety become more apparent.
Service robots to outpace industrial types
The industrial sector has been a significant user of robots for a few decades now, while the service sector has only become significant robot users since the middle of the first decade of the 2000s. Through 2016 and beyond, service robots will lead growth as lower costs and the increasing sophistication of robot technology and software make these products more appealing to a broader range of consumers. The robust outlook for service robot demand is leading an increasing number of companies to enter the market, especially in the medical and consumer product sectors, and this should increase competition and further lower costs. Professional applications will continue to dominate the service robot market, with medical robots leading gains, particularly in developed countries.
US to remain top market
Five countries -- the US, Japan, Germany, China, and South Korea -- combined to account for 68 percent of the $12.3 billion global robot market in 2011 and will continue to dominate the overall market through the next decade. The US will remain the largest national market. China will become the second largest market by 2016.
Global robot production is dominated by Japan, the US, Germany, and South Korea, which combined accounted for 70 percent of the total in 2011. Because production is so concentrated, trade is quite important in the robot industry. Sophisticated high-value industrial and medical robots tend to be produced in highly developed countries with established high tech manufacturing industries, such as Japan, the US, and Germany. Smaller, less expensive service robots, especially those geared to the consumer market, are generally produced in countries with developed consumer electronics manufacturing capacity, primarily in Asia.
This study analyzes the world market for robots. Two key product types are covered: industrial robots and service robots. Software, attachments, and peripherals are not included in the data. Industrial robots are used for a variety of applications, including handling, welding, assembly and disassembly, cleanroom operations, dispensing, and processing. Service robots are used in professional or personal applications. In professional applications, a service robot is used for commercial tasks, usually operated by a properly trained operator. In personal applications, a service robot is used for a non-commercial task, usually operated by any lay person.
Excluded from the study are the following robots: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, also known as drones), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), and unmanned underwater vehicles.
As defined by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 8373 and as used in this study, an industrial robot is “an automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator, programmable in three or more axes, which may be either fixed in place or mobile for use in industrial automation applications.” Markets for industrial robots include motor vehicles, electrical/electronic products, chemicals, and others, such as metal and metal products, industrial machinery, and food and beverages.
Although no precise, internationally accepted definition exists for service robots, the International Federation of Robotics has adopted a preliminary definition, which is used in this study: “a service robot is a robot which operates semi- or fully autonomously to perform services useful to the wellbeing of humans and equipment, excluding manufacturing operations.” Within this definition, manipulating robots as described above are regarded as service robots when they are being used in non-manufacturing operations.
Historical data (2001, 2006, and 2011) and forecasts for the years 2016 and 2021 are provided for robot demand in millions of US dollars by market (for industrial robots) and product type (industrial and service). Forecasts are also provided for robot demand and production in millions of current US dollars (including inflation) by country, by region, and at the world level. The term “demand” is used interchangeably with “sales,” “market,” and “consumption.”
In addition, major manufacturers of robots are identified and profiled, and the key competitive variables are discussed. The entire report is framed within the global robot industry’s economic, technological, and market environments. World robot market share data by company presented in the “Industry Structure” section are estimated based on consultation with multiple sources. Tabular details may not always add to totals due to rounding.
Data on global robot supply and demand are derived from differing sources and developed from statistical relationships. As a result, variations are commonplace in this type of international reporting, and statistics presented in this study are historically consistent but may differ from other sources. Variances may occur because of definitional differences, undistributed exports, inventory accumulation, and goods-in-transit.