Andreyi Armiagov | Dreamstime
Robotic arm in an automated production cell.

New Robot Installations Strong but Slow in 2023

Oct. 16, 2023
Forecast calls for a 7% rise in new installations – 590,000 units worldwide – but in the U.S. new orders have dropped, apparently due to inflation and interest rates that have weakened industrial activity.

Total robot installations increased 5.0% (year over year) worldwide during 2022, according to the International Federation of Robotics, with the vast majority (73%) of those occurring in Asia. Installations in Europe represented 15% of the total, while North and South America contributed 10% to the 2022 total.

“The world record of 500,000 units was exceeded for the second year in succession,” stated IFR president Marina Bill. “In 2023 the industrial robot market is expected to grow by 7% to more than 590,000 units worldwide.”

As for the 2023 outlook on U.S. robot installations, the IFR noted that labor shortages and inflation continue to slow the overall economy, and higher interest rates have impeded capital investments by manufacturers. New orders for robot installations in the U.S. declined during the first two quarters of 2023, in Q1 and Q2/2023, though manufacturers’ large order backlog has meant that production levels have remained high through the year-to-date – and IFR indicated that federal funding support for new production capacity in the automotive and electronics sectors are positive indicators for future robot demand.

The IFR represents national robotics trades associations as well as robotics manufacturers and academic/technology experts in more than 20 countries. Its statistical reports are available for purchase.

In 2022, robot installations in China totaled 290,258 units – a 5% rise over the 2021 total, which IFR called “remarkable” because it improved on the record-setting, 57% y-o-y growth rate posted the previous year. IFR noted the that annual robot installations in China have grown by 13% each year since 2017, one effect of which has been the establishment of new robot plants in China being established by domestic and foreign robotics manufacturers.

New robot installations in Japan were up by 9% y-o-y to 50,413 units in 2022. South Korean operations’ new robot installations rose by 1% to 31,716 units in 2022.

The European Union was the world´s second-largest market for new robot installations (70,781 units; +5%) in 2022, led by Germany where installations nevertheless decreased by -1% to 25,636 units. Italian operations increased their robot installations by 8% y-o-y to 11,475 units in 2022, while French plants’ robot installations increased 13% y-o-y with 7,380 units installed in 2022.

In the United States, robot installations increased 10% from 2021 to 39,576 units, falling short of the peak volume for U.S. installations set in 2018. According to IFR, the majority of new robot installations in the U.S. last year occurred in automotive sector, for which 14,472 units represent a +47% y-o-y rise for the sector – accounting for 37% of all new U.S. robot installations during 2022.

The metal and machinery sector installed 3,900 new robot units during 2022, according to IFR, and the electrical/electronics industry added 3,732 new units.