The 2004 World Robotics survey, produced by The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in co-operation with the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), shows that orders for robots were up by 18% in the first half of 2004, compared with the same period in 2003.
It was the highest order intake of industrial robots ever recorded, worldwide and in all regions, except in Europe where it was the second best half-year recorded. The order intake, by regions, was: North America +18%, Europe -3%, Asia +57%, other regions 0%.
Worldwide sales are forecasted to increase from 81,800 units in 2003 to over 106,000 units by 2007, or an average of close to 7% per year.
In 2003, the robot market in North America surged by 28%, by close to 25% in Japan and by 4% in the European Union, says Jan Karlsson, responsible for the UNECE/IFR publication. The modest growth in the European Union market should, however, be seen in the light of the fact that with the exception of 1997 and 2001-2002, the European Union has had double-digit market growth since 1994.
Worldwide at least 800,000 units robots work in industry (possibly the real stock could be well over one million units), of which 350,000 are in Japan, approximately 250,000 are in the European Union and about 112,000 are in North America.
In Europe, Germany is in the lead with 112,700 units, followed by Italy with 50,000, France with 26,000, Spain with 20,000 and the United Kingdom with 14,000.
The survey forecasts that about one million units will be in operation worldwide by 2007, of which 350,000 will be in Japan, 326,000 in the European Union and 145,000 in North America.