IFR: Japan is the world’s leading manufacturer of industrial robotics

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The number of operational stocks of industrial robots in Japan from 2010 to 2020. | Source: IFR

Japan manufactures 45% of the world’s supply of industrial robots, according to a recent report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), making it the world’s leading manufacturer of industrial robots.

The country rapidly increased its production capacity. In 2020, its export rate increased by 78%, with 136,069 robots shipped. Japan is also a highly automated country, ranking third on IFR’s list of most automated countries in 2020.

Japan’s main markets for the export of industrial robots are China and the United States.

“Japanese industrial robot exports have averaged a compound annual growth rate of 6% over the past five years,” said IFR President Milton Guerry. “At the same time, robot imports have always been extremely low. In 2020, only 2% of Japanese installations were imported. Japan’s domestic robot market is the second largest in the world after China.

Exports to China

36% of Japanese robotics and automation exports went to China. Japanese manufacturers, like many other international suppliers, have an advantage in China because they have factories in China to service the market directly. This has been particularly advantageous during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted international supply chains.

China is also aggressively developing its robotics sector. From 2015 to 2020, it fell from the twenty-fifth most automated country in the world to the ninth, according to the IFR. In 2020, China had 246 industrial robots for every 10,000 workers.

In addition to increasing the number of robots at work in the country, China is seeking to make its robotics industry a key source of global robotics innovation with its latest five-year plan for robotics. The plan set out five improvement tasks, which included expanding the depth and breadth of robotics applications in the country, developing new technologies, and standardizing its robotics industry.

According to the IFR, China has increased the number of installations by domestic industries, although foreign installations account for the majority. In 2020, domestic companies installed 45,347 robots, compared to 123,030 foreign installations.

Exports to the United States

As Japan’s second largest industrial robot market, the United States accounts for 22% of its industrial robot exports. According to the IFR, the United States is expected to rebound further from the COVID-19 pandemic, possibly giving way to more Japanese exports.

In 2020, the United States was the seventh most automated country in the world. There were about 255 industrial robots per 10,000 employees in the country.

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