Robot sales are growing. Mostly. The IFR's World Robotics Report says global robot sales hit $16.5 billion in 2018; shipments rose 6% to 422,000. The report expects shipments to stall in 2019 but still expects 12% growth from 2020 to 2022.
Collaborative robots are on the rise. These are robots that work alongside or with humans. Almost 14,000 robots were installed in 2018, up 23% from 2017.
Asia is the top market. Despite declines from China and Korea, growth of industrial robots in Japan still put the region at 1% growth. Number two is Europe, with a record 14% growth rate, and the Americas is third with a record 20% growth rate. The top five markets for industrial robots are China, then Japan, followed by Korea, the US, and Germany.
Automotive is still tops with a 2% increase in installations. The electronics industry was expected to pass automotive, but declined 14% and remained second. Metal and machinery was the third largest market for industrial robots. The most metal robot nation? Finland.
Not having enough robots can be bad for jobs, too. A UK government report notes that a country's lack of investment in automation will lead to jobs going elsewhere. A PwC analysis of US Labor Statistics (PDF) found that the most robotics-intensive manufacturing sectors in America--automotive, electronics, and metals--employ 20% more mechanical and industrial engineers than other manufacturing sectors.
As with all stories on automation and robots, we should take seriously the displacement caused and find serious solutions for people who will lose their jobs, while still maintaining the benefits that can provide the resources to help them.