Robot sales in the United States hit a new peak of almost 38,000 units, setting a record for the eighth year in a row (2010-2018). Today, robot density in the U.S. manufacturing industry is now more than double that of China and ranks seventh worldwide. These results are published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).
Robot density in the U.S. manufacturing industry reached 200 robots per 10,000 employees vs. 97 in China (2017). The trend to automate production in both domestic and global markets is the main driving force of robot installations in the US. The general industry sector, particularly the food and beverage industry (+64 percent) and the plastic and chemical products industry (+30 percent), had the highest growth.
In terms of market share, the automotive sector is the most important customer for robots. The U.S. car market is the second largest car market in the world after China. Within the U.S. automotive sector, part suppliers account for two thirds of installations: Sales went up by 9 percent (2017-2018). However, car manufacturers (OEM) invested less in automation — installations went down by 26 percent. The average annual growth rate of robot sales to the U.S. automotive industry between 2013 and 2018 was 7 percent.
Robot density in the automotive industry increased by 52 percent between 2012 and 2017, from 790 to 1,200 industrial robots in operation per 10,000 employees (robot density China 2017: 539 units). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the automotive industry increased by 22 percent from 824,400 to 1,005,000 jobs (2013-2018).
The electrical/electronics industry was the second most important customer in 2018 with a market share of 18 percent of the total supply.
Main image: A Kiva robot drive unit is seen, foreground, before it moves under a stack of merchandise pods, seen on a tour of one of Amazon's newest distribution centers in Tracy, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Brandon Bailey)