Who Leads the Robot Race?

Industrial Automation: Who Leads the Robot Race?

The advent of industrial robotics has triggered a wave of automation that is progressively sweeping across global industries. Countries that deploy these robots in great numbers are likely to increase their productivity and lower their costs of production.

With this in mind, the graphic above from our sponsor MSCI ranks the top countries by industrial robot installations.

Data and Highlights

This data was sourced from a 2022 report published by the International Federation of Robotics.

Country 2012 2015 2018 2021
🇨🇳 China 23,000 69,000 115,000 268,000
🇯🇵 Japan 29,000 35,000 55,000 47,000
🇺🇸 U.S. 22,000 28,000 40,000 35,000
🇰🇷 South Korea 19,000 38,000 38,000 31,000
🇩🇪 Germany 18,000 20,000 27,000 24,000
🌍 Rest of World 48,000 64,000 108,000 112,000

It may not be surprising that China leads the world in industrial automation, given its prowess in mass production. In fact, in 2021, China installed more industrial robots than all other countries in the world combined.

According to the IFR report, 56% of the robots that China installed in 2021 were deployed in automotive or electronics-related industries. The same trend can be seen in Japan, with 53% of its 2021 installations also being in those two industries. 

America’s installations were more evenly distributed, with 36% dedicated to automotive and electronics. Other major sectors were metals and machinery (11%), plastics and chemicals (10%), and food (10%). 

Robotics for the Future

Falling birth rates and the aging of the baby boomer generation suggest that many of the world’s biggest economies will eventually experience labor shortages. This is evidenced by the constrictive population pyramids of Japan, the U.S., Europe, and even China. 

The IFR believes that robotics can help to solve this problem, not just in manufacturing, but also in critical industries like agriculture and healthcare. 

For example, robotics are expected to become more common in the surgery room, where they can perform intricate procedures with the help of artificial intelligence. The market for surgical robots is expected to reach over $20 billion by 2030, up from $4.4 billion in 2020.

Given the vast array of use cases, robotics and AI are two technologies that could rapidly transform our world over the coming decades. Investors can gain insight with the MSCI ACWI IMI Robotics & AI Index, which benchmarks an investable universe of companies associated with automation.

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