Industrial robot sales skyrocket

Industrial robotics explodes figures in the United States, where 2021 may become the record year for the sector. In the first nine months, sales reached 29,000 units with a value of 10,480 million dollars, surpassing the record for the same period that was registered in 2017. These are data from the Association for the Advancement of Automation (A3), where it also highlights the big rise compared to the previous year –50% -, marked by the pandemic and the confinements. And there is a clear responsible for this progress: the shortage of employees.

Two thirds of this demand does not come from the automobile industry, the traditional spearhead for these devices. This does not mean that it does not continue to grow – in fact, it does so at 20% – but in the rest of the sectors, demand has shot up by an average of 53%. The most prominent case is that of metallurgy, where the rise has been 183%. According to ‘The Wall Street Journal’, some companies have already begun to use robots to lay a cable in some of their tasks, such as parcel sorting, given the shortage of workers in the country.

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The pandemic had meant a small slowdown in the growth of these assemblies, since Only 383,500 units were sold, 0.5% more, in 2020. The drop was largely avoided by the 20% increase in demand in China, which accounted for almost half of the units sold (44%). After her, the countries that buy the most this technology are Japan (10%) and the United States (8%).

These are data from the report ‘World Robotics Industrial Robots 2021’ prepared by the International Federation of Robotics (FIR). In it, it is indicated that it is the “Third most successful year for the robotics industry so far”, after 2017 and 2018. On the other hand, 2019 was a black year, with a fall that they attribute to “the difficult times” experienced by two of its main clients – automotive and electronics – and to the trade conflict between China and the United States. .


In total, there are already 3 million industrial robots worldwide. At a global level, this drop in the relative weight of the automotive sector has also been noted, which last year was surpassed by that of electronics, which rose six percentage points (29%), the same as the former. However, it should be noted that there is no information on the end to which 22% of these machines were destined.

Everything indicates that industrial robotics will recover strongly around the world in 2021, with the most damaging effects of the pandemic already overcome. This is in addition to the history of increases in the last five years, with an average annual growth of 9%, which makes growth forecasts are very high. In fact, the FIR estimates that in two years it will practically will double the number of installations robotics in the industry, reaching five million units in the market.

Spain, tenth in the ranking

Spain is no stranger to this wave. The country already occupies the tenth place in the world ranking of industrial robotics installation, although the pandemic reduced the rate of growth by 15%. In total, 3,387 units were dispatched, although their all-time high occurred a couple of years ago, when that figure was almost double (5,266).

In any case, Spain is far from experiencing a situation of worker shortage similar to those that are occurring in the United States or the United Kingdom, at least for now. That does not mean that there have been tensions in the labor market, where job vacancies are 60% higher than a year ago.

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