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Facts & Figures: Robots on the March

By Dave Pheteplace | August 03, 2015

Currently, there are more than 1.6 million industrial robots in service worldwide; will that number grow significantly in the next five years?


Industrial robotics salesAccording to the IFR (International Federation of Robotics), there have been approximately 2.7 million industrial robots shipped worldwide since the 1960s. With a potential service life of 15 years, that means there are more than 1.6 million robots in service today. The current annual sales value of the robots produced today is more than $10 billion, which equals about 225,000 robots in 2014. When software, peripheral equipment, and systems engineering are added, these robotic systems have a market value of more than $30 billion.

Robots come in two different flavors – industrial and service robots. Industrial robots are used to manufacture products and service robots provide services, such as surveillance, bomb disposal, surgery, and cleaning.

Most people think of industrial applications when robots are discussed. They are used in the manufacture of everything from automobiles to plastics/rubber. The RIA (Robotic Industries Association) states that there were 27,685 robots sold to North American companies in 2014, with a value of $1.5 billion. These shipments were up 23% in units over 2013. Automotive robot sales were up 45% over 2013, plastics and rubber were up 25%, semiconductors and electronics up 21%, and metals were up 16%. RIA estimates there are approximately 230,000 robots now in service in United States factories. The following table shows the sales of industrial robots to North American companies since 2011.

Industrial Robotics
Sales to North American Companies

Industrial sales North America

Service robots, used in defense, agriculture, logistics, medical, construction, cleaning, rescue/security, and other industries, have significant potential for growth. The largest segment of the service robot market is in defense, which comprises about 45% of this market according to IFR. These include unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned ground base vehicles. The second largest segment is in agriculture, equaling about 25% of the market. Uses in agriculture include milking robots and mobile barn cleaners. The third largest segment is in logistics, with 9% of the market, where robots are used for moving materials in warehousing and manufacturing. This is followed by medical, accounting for 6% of the total market, where they are used for robot-assisted surgery and therapy. The total sales of the service robot market in 2014 is 22,000 units. The value of these units varies greatly depending on the use.

Service Robots
Market Share of Subsectors

Market share service robots

The market for industrial robots is expected to have a five-year compound annual growth rate of 6.0%. The market will grow to a value of $40 billion in 2020. Growth of service robots, particularly when the potential of home and leisure use is factored in, is significant.

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Dave Pheteplace
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