Industrial Robotics Market Sales and Growth Forecast
Industrial robots are a common sight on the factory floor, particularly in automotive markets. They offer high-precision handling and speed, and reduce operator risk, such as worker exposure to hazardous materials and to production dangers in general. In the near future, industrial robots will include those that cooperate with humans, instead of replacing them. This will open up new potential for utilizing robots in factories and in the agricultural market, as well as for domestic purposes.
A record number of industrial robots were sold in 2011, with a worldwide increase of 38% over 2010, reaching 166,000 units. The automotive and metal industry largely drove this growth. In the automotive market, sales of industrial robots increased by 55% over 2010, to 59,700 units. In the metal sector, growth in 2011 was 54% and sales reached 14,100 units. In China, growth reached almost 51%, followed by the US with 49% and Germany with 39% growth over 2010. For 2012 the IFR estimated a more modest growth of 9% over 2011 (see table).
Worldwide Sales of Industrial Robots 2008-2015F
Number of Robots (units) per Year by Region
To date, Europe, led by Germany, along with Japan, dominate the robot market, closely followed by the US and South Korea. These countries are highly industrialized and (still) have a large domestic (automotive) market for industrial robots. South Korea has been the fastest-growing market in recent years, although growth is now leveling off. China is poised to become the single-largest industrial robot market by 2015.
Industrial Robot Makers
The demand for connectors and cable assemblies for the robotics market has increased dramatically due to the surge in this sector’s growth. The average price per industrial robot has decreased over the past five years, by almost 7 to 7.5% per year, and reached levels around $51K in 2011. The connector content of an industrial robot, in terms of dollar value, will likely decrease in absolute value but remain fairly stable in terms of the percentage of the total cost of the robot. Combined with much higher production numbers, this represents a substantial connector potential for connector manufacturers. The IFR expects sales to reach well over 200,000 units by 2015. In 2011, total robot sales would translate to an estimated $132.8 million connector market. The use of specific connectors designed for industrial robots, such as fiber optic connectors, combined with more general technology trends in the automation market, will also influence the connector mix used in industrial robots.
Estimated Connector Sales for Industrial Robots 2011, 2012
With China, South Korea, and the rest of Asia Pacific representing an estimated 40% of the industrial robot market by 2015 — coming from 24% in 2008 — it is clear that the potential for this growing market is shifting at high speed to this region. Despite this trend, the markets in Europe, Japan, and North America remain equally important, as these industrialized countries continue to increase the level of automation in their manufacturing plants in order to remain competitive in the global markets. For connector manufacturers, this means a well-balanced sales strategy targeted at the major industrial robot makers. We anticipate their end users will produce satisfying results over the coming years.
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