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21st August 2017

Automation in China is growing exponentially

China is breaking historic records in automation. The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) predicts an annual sales increase for industrial robots of up to 20% until 2020.

China's annual sales volume has now reached the highest level ever recorded for a single country: last year, sales surged by 27% to reach 85,000 units. At the same time, Chinese robot manufacturers are expanding the market share in their home country. This data is published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) ahead of its World Robotics Report 2017, to be released on 27th September.

"China is by far the biggest robot market in the world regarding annual sales and regarding the operational stock," says Joe Gemma, IFR President.

The main drivers of growth are the electrical and electronics industry. Sales increased by 75% last year to almost 30,000 units. About one third of the robots were produced by Chinese robot suppliers, who more than doubled sales, by almost 120%. All international robot suppliers also increased sales considerably to the electrical and electronics industry (+59%). This remarkable demand is expected to continue into the future.

The automotive industry lost its pole position to the electrical and electronics industry, but is still a powerful driver for industrial robot sales. China has become both the world's largest car market and the world's largest production site for cars, including electric cars, with much growth potential. Sales to China made up 25% of the global supply of industrial robots to the automotive industry in 2016. Between 2011 and 2016, a total of 108,000 units were installed, representing an average increase of 18% per year. The market share of Chinese robot suppliers in the automotive industry is still on a rather low level but has increased from 10 to 13%.

China's government wants to transform the nation from a manufacturing giant into a world manufacturing power according to their 10-year national plan "Made in China 2025". This strategy includes strengthening Chinese robot suppliers and further increasing their market share both in China and abroad. China intends to forge ahead and enter the world's top 10 most highly automated countries by 2020. By then, its "robot density" is targeted to grow to 150 units – this being the number of industrial robots per 10,000 employees. Today, South Korea is the leader in robot density, with 531 robot units, compared to the USA with 176 and Germany with 301.


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