Installations of new robots set a record and peaked in 2005, with 126,700 new units, 30 percent more than were installed in 2004, and nearly 13 percent more than the 110,600 industrial robots that are expected to be installed this year. Growth of robot installations is expected to pick up in 2007, and to rise by a yearly average of 5.6 percent to 130,150 by 2009, according to the International Federation of Robotics.
The international organization produced its 2005 World Robot Market report, saying that the automotive industry continues to pace robot installations for both motor vehicle and automotive part and component production. The electrical and chemical industries were the third and fourth largest consumers of robots, and the production of metal products and machinery placed fifth and sixth in robot installations in 2005.
The international organization noted that investments in robotics boomed in Asia and America in 2005, while order intakes in Europe were far more moderated.
In 2005, more than 76,000 robots were supplied to Asian countries (including Australia and New Zealand), about 45 percent more than in 2004. This primarily was a result of strong investment within the automotive and the electrical/electronics industries.
In Japan, installations skyrocketed to the highest number since 1991, 50,500 units, or 36 percent more than in 2004. This was the result of replacement investments by the automotive industry and the electric machinery and components (including semiconductors and LCD) industry and supplies to the communication equipment industry and the metal and machinery industries.
China became the third largest robot market in Asia, behind Japan and Korea, with 4,500 newly installed robots, about 28 percent more than in 2004.
In the Americas, robotics investments skyrocketed by 40 percent, to 21,555 units. Asian car makers, in particular, have made significant investments to enlarge and improve their U.S. and Canadian production sites. However, this also was emulated by their U.S. and European competitors within the automotive industry, who sought to preserve their respective shares of the North American market.
When deliveries to Mexico, Argentina and Brazil are included, the automotive industry in the Americas installed 47 percent more industrial robots in 2005 than in 2004.
However, other industries also increased their orders of robots remarkably. Demand from the metal industry (including machinery, metal products and basic metals) increased by 52 percent, the chemical industry by 41 percent, and the electrical/ electronics industry by 34 percent.
In Europe, 2005 saw installations of industrial robots decline by 2 percent when compared to 2004. This can be largely attributed to a lull in investments by the automotive industry and its suppliers in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Sweden. Car makers' purchases of industrial robots fell by 28 percent in Europe as a whole.
The International Federation of Robotics estimates that the total worldwide stock of operational industrial robots at the end of 2005 was between 923,000 units and 1,120,000 units.