Industrial Robots Post Record High, Poise to Expand

The Japan Robot Association (JARA) reported that the industrial robot market for 2021 posted record high. This trend is seen to continue to expand.

In 2021, the expansion of the robot industry in Japan was mainly driven by exports. In China, rapid growth was seen in the robot industry, while domestic production has been progressing.

It is interesting to witness the next waves of growth in the robot industry.

Industrial Robot Market

The industrial statistics on robots for 2021 were compiled from members of JARA. According to JARA, orders amounted to 271,294 units, representing an annual increase of 41.8 percent. They are valued at 940.5 billion yen (US$8.14 billion), up 29.6 percent year-on-year. Total production was 236,522 units, jumping 33.1 percent year-on-year, with value amounting to 832.6 billion yen (US$7.21 billion), an increase of 26.4 percent on the year. Meanwhile, total shipments combining domestic shipments and exports were 238,085 units, up 33.0 percent on the year, and were worth 840.3 billion yen (US$7.28 billion), up 27.8 percent annually.

The expansion of industrial robots is seen to expand further.

Of the total shipments, shipments to Japan were 40,319 units, representing 17.4 percent year-on-year increase. They are valued at 185.6 billion yen (US$1.61 billion), representing 10.4 percent annual jump. Exports were 197,766 units, up 36.7 percent increase on the year. These are valued at 654.7 billion yen (US$5.67 billion), representing an annual jump of 33.7 percent. Exports to China were 324.555 billion yen (US$51.02 billion), increasing 37.0 percent on the year, and accounted for about 50 percent of total exports. Orders, production and exports marked record highs both in terms of unit and value.

China’s Five-Year Development Plan

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) of China recently announced the 14th Five-Year Plan for the development of the country’s robot industry. The plan lays down China’s strategies to make the country a global hub for high-end robot manufacturing by 2025.

China aims to achieve breakthroughs in robot-related important technologies and high-end products. It plans to catch up with global level in the performance and reliability of servo motors and important components. With this it plans to grow the robot industry at an annual average of 20 percent between 2021 and 2025.

China Promotes Domestic Production

China, the largest export destination of Japan, has been advancing the domestic production of industrial robots as a national policy. The country is positioning the robot industry as one of its priority growth fields under “Made in China 2025”. China has begun to put emphasis on exports on full scale with some Chinese manufacturers having made inroads into the Japanese market. Thus, they are expected to influence the industrial robot market in the future.

China’s robot industry is growing rapidly.

18 Percent Growth

The Chinese Institute of Electronics reported that China’s industrial robot market in 2021 would have reached RMB44.57 billion (US$7.01 billion). From 2016 to 2023, the market is expected to grow 18.3 percent, expanding to RMB59 billion (US$9.27 billion) by 2023.

Japanese Makers Hold 40 Percent

Japanese and other overseas manufacturers have been vying in the Chinese market. Japanese companies, like FANUC, YASKAWA Electric, NACHI-FUJIKOSHI, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Epson Corporation occupied more than 40 percent of the market in 2021. Other international manufacturers, include ABB (Switzerland), Universal Robots (Denmark), KUKA (Germany), HIWIN (Taiwan) and Hyundai (Korea).

Interestingly, Chinese robot manufacturers have grown rapidly. According to the Chinese Institute of Electronics, China’s domestic share increased gradually from 22 percent in 2017 to 27 percent in 2018, 29 percent in 2019, and 30 percent in 2020.

It is said that there are more than 120 main industrial robot manufacturers in China. SIASUN, China’s largest state-run robot manufacturer, has its main plant in Shenyang. The company has also made an inroad into the Japanese market.

Meanwhile, Standard Robots specializes in the development and manufacture of industrial use autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). The company has introduced AMRs to Foxconn, ZTE, and HUAWEI, as well as to more than 20 Japanese companies.

Along with SIASUN Group, KUKA and Nanjing Panda Electronics also play part in China’s robot industry as leading companies. KUKA AG was acquired by China’s leading home electric appliances manufacturer, Midea Group.