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Industrial robot sales hit all-time high in 2013

February 25, 2014 - “The global demand for industrial robots reached an all-time- high of about 168,000 units in 2013,” said Arturo Baroncelli, IFR President.  “The success story of the robotics industry is continuing.” 

Based on the results of the IFR Quarterly Statistics, the IFR estimates that in 2013 about 168,000 industrial robots were sold, 5% more than in 2012. Robot sales to the Americas continued to increase due to necessary automation processes in the North American industry. Robot sales to Asia rose considerably due to strong demand from China, South Korea and other growing Asian markets. In the fourth quarter 2013, the start of recovery in the euro-zone pushed robot demand substantially. Due to the rather weak development in the first three quarters, robot sales in Europe stagnated in 2013. 

Between 2010 and 2013 the annual increase of global robot sales was about 12% on average despite the critical economic situation in some key countries. “One basic reason for the continuous growth in the use of robotics is its never ending technological development in relation with market and industrial requirements, accounting for product quality and competitiveness as well as safe processes,” explained Arturo Baroncelli. Joe Gemma,  IFR Vice President added: “Those of us in the industry are not surprised by the growth as many factors have contributed to the increase use of robotics worldwide, some of which has been driven directly from the automation equipment manufactures.  The software to work with and run robots and automation cells has developed rapidly over the last few years and the ease of use has transcended into more applications under a very demanding and dynamic manufacturing landscape that would not have been tackled in the past.   This has enabled manufacturers to provide products to the market quicker and with flexibility of variations to meet consumer demand and at the same time insure the quality required and the performance demanded.  Additionally, development tools have enabled more R&D variations on traditional product portfolios and has provided the possibility to “push the envelope” to bring more innovation quicker to the market place.  Certainly the volume increases over the last several years has created a cost benefit that is shared to the automation consumers and is now more attractive to non-traditional markets.  These changes and others have contributed to the advancement and increase for worldwide demand for automation solutions.”    

The global robotics industry is looking with confidence into the future: 
“2013 has been a successful year for KUKA Robotics. We were able to strengthen our powerful market position in the Automotive Industry. We have grown in the General Industry. The KR AGILUS made a great contribution to that. We keep concentrating on General Industry in 2014 and will strengthen our position furthermore. With our lightweight robot LBR iiwa, we will be able to serve new fields and new production technologies in the robot-based automation.  We will also keep on focusing on the Asian market and especially China. In December 2013 we started the production in our new plant in Shanghai.” Manfred Gundel, CEO, KUKA Roboter GmbH, Germany 

“As clearly shown by the IFR quarterly statistics, the automotive industry has made major investments in Asian countries including China. In addition, there has been an increase in demand from the euro-zone region and America.  In comparison to 2012, our shipments have been on the rise in most markets.  This is mainly led by the automotive industry and is also due to strong demand from the other industries, such as food and beverage, building and construction related sectors.  We expect that demand from the mentioned industries will remain stable in the next few years.  Moreover, there will be a great expansion in the emerging markets and new fields such as the bio-medical sector. The semi-conductor industry remained steady throughout 2013.  This trend is expected to continue in 2014.“ Yoshikatsu Minami, Corporate Vice President and General Manager Robotics Division, Yaskawa Electric Corporation, Japan 

"ABB Robotics recorded its best year ever in 2013. Whilst gains were posted across all industries, the sustained growth witnessed in the Automotive and Food & Beverage segments coupled with the relentless growth trajectory of the Consumer Electronics industry merit particular mention. Regionally, resilience in Europe and continued strength across the board in Asia helped drive our business to levels previously unseen. With global demand for flexible automation solutions at an all-time high, I look forward to yet another excellent year for ABB Robotics and the industry in 2014". Per Vegard Nerseth, Group Senior Vice President Head of Business Unit Robotics Discrete Automation & Motions Division, ABB, Switzerland    

“Innovations and a strong market position are still the main movers of our robotic industry. The demand for automated solutions is still intact and we, as Güdel Group, are expecting a moderate growing market for 2014”. Rudolf Güdel, CEO Güdel Group, Switzerland 
“While the automotive industry remains the largest robotics user in North America, we’re very encouraged by the strong growth in shipments to non-automotive markets in 2013. Overall shipments to non-automotive customers rose 31% while automotive related shipments were flat. The largest gains in non-automotive markets were in Life Sciences/Pharmaceutical/Biomedical (+142%), food & consumer goods (+61%) and plastics & rubber (+36%).   Orders from non-automotive markets were up 22%, a very positive sign for the robotics industry moving forward.” Jeff Burnstein, President, Robotic Industries Association, the North American trade group for the robotics industry. 
Adept saw a steady increase in demand across all geographies in 2013. In particular our business in Asia has experienced a strong uptick both in the fixed and mobile robots.” Rob Cain, CEO, Adept Technology, USA 

“The global robotics industry reached a new all-time high 2013 and so did Comau Robotics with sales up more than 20% vs. last record year. The main reason for us outgrowing the global market last year were that we in a more efficient way leveraged on our global presence, broaden our product portfolio and focused our products, our solutions and our organization on making our customers successful in their markets. We have seen business in geographical areas and in industrial segments were we didn’t see business before. Our journey towards growth will continue in 2014 as we intend to continue brining more innovative products and solutions for target industry segments to the market.” Mathias Wiklund, COO Comau Robotics, Italy 

“We have planned a lot for 2014 and want to raise our sales in comparison to last year. The rising demand of industrial robots, which for sure will continue in 2014, is going to support that goal. We see growth potential especially in Latin America and Asia, thus in countries where industrialization comes to the step of automation. We also expect growth in our main markets, the DACH-region (German-speaking area) or Northern America. In these countries our main focus is on keeping the production lines in the country and save the jobs instead of sourcing them out. In general we want to enable small and medium sized companies to automate their production in a flexible, simple and cost efficient way.” Enrico Krog Iversen, CEO Universal Robots, Denmark    

Save the date: 
IFR CEO Round Table on the topic: “Easy to use robots - challenge and chance to capture new applications and customers” 
4th June 2014 09:00 – 11:00 hrs Restaurant Turmblick Messe Munich 
Global leading robot suppliers and a Chinese robot supplier will participate the discussion as well as a robot user from the automotive industry. 

Arturo Baroncelli was elected as IFR President in October 2013 for a period of two years. He has been in the robotics industry since 1985 and in Comau S.p.a. since 1988, where he is now Segment Manager Director in Comau Robotics.  He has covered several positions in Project Management, Proposal Engineering, Product Planning, Marketing & Sales, Strategic Planning and Business Development. 
Baroncelli has been a member of the IFR Executive Board since 2008. Since 1998, he has been an Executive Board Member of SIRI, the Italian Robotics association. He was presented with the Joseph Engelberger Award in Tokyo in 2005.  

Joe Gemma has been in the automation industry for over 25 years and at Staubli since 1997 where he is CEO of Staubli Corporation in Duncan, South Carolina since 2011. He has covered several positions in the Robotics Division of Staubli in USA and in France. Before 1997 he worked for US manufacturing companies Advanced Technology Systems, Crellin Technologies and Corner & Lada. Gemma just started his activities in the IFR as a member of the IFR Executive Board. 

The International Federation of Robotics was established in 1987 in connection with the 17th International Symposium on Robotics, as a professional non-profit organisation, by robotics organisations from over 15 countries. Since 1970 an International Symposium on Robotics is organised every year on a different continent, in a different country and another city. The Symposium is systematically organised in conjunction with an International Robot Exhibition. The purpose of the International Federation of Robotics is to promote research, development, use and international co-operation in the entire field of robotics to act as a focal point for organisations and governmental representatives in activities related to robotics. The IFR is hosted by VDMA Robotics and Automation. 

The IFR Statistical Department, which is hosted by the VDMA Robotics + Automation Association, publishes two studies of World Robotics every year. In 2013:  

World Robotics 2013 Industrial Robots:  This unique publication presents comprehensive global statistics on industrial robots in uniform tables allowing consistent country comparisons. It contains detailed statistical data for some 40 countries, broken down by application areas, industrial branches, types of robots and by other technical and economic variables. Data on production, exports and imports are presented for a selection of countries. Trends in robot densities, i.e. number of robots per 10,000 persons employed in relevant sectors, are also featured.  

World Robotics 2013 Service Robots:  This unique publication presents comprehensive global statistics on service robots, market analysis, case studies and international research strategies of service robots. The study is evaluated in cooperation with our partner, the Fraunhofer IPA, Stuttgart, Germany.

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