The International Federation of Robotics released their annual update on market trends in September, their key headline was that they expect the number of industrial robots in factories to increase by 1.7m units by the end of 2020. In the short-term they forecast the number of installations to rise by 21% in Asia, 16% in the US and 8% in Europe. The Federation believes the key drivers behind the rapid growth include faster business cycles, increasing desire for customization and the need to have more flexible manufacturing along with the usual arguments of rising cost of labour and a generally cheaper and more efficient manufacturing footprint. They believe that many of these drivers will lead to the increased usage and production of collaborative robots which are cheaper to buy and run. They can also work in tandem with humans without the need for safety cages. In terms of units, it is estimated that by 2020 the worldwide stock of operational industrial robots will increase from about 1,828,000 units at the end of 2016 to 3,053,000 units. This represents an average annual growth rate of 14 percent between 2018 and 2020. China is still leading the demand for industrial robots and Kuka announced it will double its production capacity there, following Fanuc and ABB plans.
The chart below from the IFR shows the current global industrial robot production capacity by country.