China emerges biggest robot market with a big hike in sales


China has rapidly become a global leader in automation. From 2018 to 2020, a sales increase of 15-20 per cent on an average per year is possible for industrial robots. The annual sales volume in China has currently reached the highest level ever recorded for a single country. Within a year, China’s sales surged by 27 per cent to 87,000 units (2016). The operational stock of industrial robots marks the highest level in the world. At the same time, Chinese robot manufacturers keep expanding their domestic market.

These are the results published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) as per its World Robotics Report 2017.

“China is by far the biggest robot market in the world in terms of annual sales and the operational stock,” said Joe Gemma, President of IFR. “It is the fastest growing market worldwide. There has never been such a dynamic rise in such a short period of time in any other market.”

Car industry lost its pole position

The automotive industry lost its pole position to the electrical and electronics industry, but is still a powerful driver for industrial robot sales. China has become both the world’s largest car market and the world’s largest production site for cars, including electric cars, with much growth potential. Sales to China formed 25 per cent of the global supply of industrial robots to the automotive industry in 2016. During 2011 and 2016, a total of 108,000 units were installed, representing an average increase of 18 per cent per year.

The market share of Chinese robot suppliers in the automotive industry is still on a rather low level but has increased from 10 to 13 per cent. China is the largest growing consumer market with increasing demands for all kinds of consumer goods. Consequently, various other industries have also started to expand capacities and automate production.

Some international robot suppliers have already launched production plants in China, and in all likelihood more will follow suit in the coming years. Most industrial robots in China are imported from Japan, Korea, Europe and North America.