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Robot Installations, Operational Robot Stock Hit Record Levels in 2021

An all-time high of 517,385 new industrial robots were installed globally in 2021, representing year-over-year growth of 31%, as the figure broke the previous record high for robot installations in 2018 by 22%. These figures come courtesy of the International Federation of Robotics’ (IFR) new World Robotics report. In addition to a new record for new installations, the stock of operational robots around the globe also achieved an all-time-high of 3.5 million units.

New installations in the U.S. were up 14% to 34,987 units in 2021, which exceeded the pre-pandemic level of 33,378 units in 2019 but was still lower than country’s peak level of 40,373 units in 2018. Automotive remains the top adopter with 9782 units installed in 2021, despite demand in that sector continuously declining over the last five years.

The plastic and chemical products industry had 3466 robots (+30%) newly installed in 2021, while installations in the metal and machinery industry surged by 66% to 3814 units, putting this industry into second place in terms of robot demand.

IFR World Robotics Report

Worldwide annual robot installations between 2015 and 2021 more than doubled.
Photo Credit: World Robotics 2022

Asia Automates

Asia remains the world’s largest market for industrial robots, with 74% of all newly deployed robots installed in Asia, up from 70% over 2020. China led the way, with installations up by 51% to 268,195 units shipped. Every other robot installed globally in 2021 was deployed here. The operational stock level also topped 1-million-unit mark (+27%).

Every other robot installed globally in 2021 was deployed in China.

Japan remained second to China with installations up 22% in 2021 to 47,182 units. Japan’s operational stock, meanwhile, grew 5% to 393,326 units. Japan is the world’s predominant robot manufacturing country, and exports of Japanese industrial robots achieved a new peak level at 186,102 units in 2021.

The Republic of Korea was the fourth largest robot market in terms of annual installations, following the U.S., Japan and China. Robot installations increased 2% to 31,083 units in 2021. The operational stock of robots registered 366,227 units (+7%).

New High for Europe

Robot installations in Europe were up 24% to 84,302 units in 2021, representing a new peak. Demand from the automotive industry was steady, while demand from the general industry was up by 51%. Germany, which belongs to the five major robot markets in the world, had a share of 28% of total installations in Europe. Italy followed with 17% and France with 7%.

The number of installed robots in Germany grew by 6% to 23,777 in 2021—the second highest installation count ever recorded. Exports of industrial robots from Germany grew 41% to 22,870 units, exceeding the pre-pandemic level.


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