March 16, 2021

KUKA autoproduction400x275Robot density, measured as units installed per 10,000 employees, hit a new record for the U.S. automotive industry, with 1,287 units, according to new world robotics statistics issued by the International Federation of Robots (IFR).

The U.S. ranks seventh worldwide and is similar to Germany (1,311 units per 10K) and Japan (1,248 units per 10K). China ranks 12th with 938 units per 10K.

“Automation is the key not only to post-pandemic recovery but to post-pandemic growth and progress,” said Milton Guerry, president of the IFR. “In the upswing after the 2008 financial crisis, companies like General Motors, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, and Tesla invested extensively in robotics and automation. As a result, thousands of new jobs were created within the automotive industry. So many years and technological advancements later, we have the opportunity to learn from this success story and emerge even stronger than before.”

The IFR reported that robot density in the general industry is still comparatively low, with only 139 units per 10,000 employees. In all surveyed countries worldwide, the IFR said the potential for robot installations in the general industry is tremendous. In the U.S., for example, yearly orders of robots from non-automotive sectors surpassed automotive robot orders for the first time. Sales of robotic units in the U.S. increased 7% in 2020, compared with 2019. Orders in life sciences (up 72%), food and consumer goods (60% growth), and plastics and rubber (62% growth) led other industries.

Densities Automotive vs General industry

The world's top 10 most automated countries, by robot density, are Singapore (918 units), South Korea (868), Japan, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, the U.S., Belgium, and Luxemburg.

Robotics and related automation technologies will be a big topic at next week’s Automate Forward virtual show and conference, sponsored by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). “High-profile industrial experts and over 250 automation suppliers report about cutting-edge use cases for automation and what they recommend for the automation journey of companies either just starting or expanding their automation journey,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of the A3.

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