China surpasses the US in terms of robot density

South Korea employs the most industrial robots throughout the world.

Industrial robots are advancing at a rapid rate on a global scale. More than 3.5 million of them were present in 2021, and 500,000 more were added only in the previous year. China, whose robot density per employee has for the first time surpassed that of the USA, is seeing a particularly high increase in automation. Germany, ahead of Italy and France in Europe, has the most industrial robots per capita.

It has long been difficult to picture many industries—whether in the automobile industry, metal processing industry, or chemical industry—without robots. The majority of tasks that assembly line employees traditionally completed are now carried out by adaptive, machine-based assistants. Along with traditional robot arms, autonomous transport robots, and computerized manufacturing lines, they also include mobile 3D printers and robotic recycling assistance.

Country specific robot density per 10000 workers.
Country-specific robot density per 10,000 workers. (Credit: World Robotics Report 2022, IFR)

Record expansion despite the pandemic

According to Marina Bill, president of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), robot density is a critical sign of how automation is developing in industrial sectors globally. Her team assessed how the overall number of industrial robots and their density, computed per 10,000 workers, changed in 2021 compared to earlier years for the World Robotics 2022 Report.

As a consequence, the surge in robots and automation has not halted, despite the Corona epidemic. 517,385 new industrial robots were deployed globally in 2021, an all-time record and a 31 percent increase over the year before. Annual robot deployments have more than quadrupled during the last six years. Another record-breaking average of 141 robots per 10,000 employees already exists globally.

In the top five is China

One in every two new industrial robots deployed globally was utilized in China in 2021, where the number of robots increased especially quickly. Nearly 270,000 new robots were placed in the country. In China’s industries, there are now more than a million industrial robots in use. The high level of investment in China is reflected in its quick robotic expansion, and there is still a lot of room for automation.

China has now officially become one of the top five most automated nations in the world, surpassing even the USA in terms of robot density. In 2021, there were 322 operating robots for every 10,000 workers in China’s industrial sector. China now ranks fifth in terms of the density of robots, after South Korea, Singapore, Japan, and Germany. With 274 robots per 10,000 workers, the United States comes in ninth place.

Despite this, South Korea continues to have the most automated sector, with 1,000 industrial robots for every 10,000 workers. The electronics industry and a robust automobile sector are the main drivers of this.

Germany is at the top of Europe

Germany has the largest robot density in Europe, yet even in this nation, 23,000 additional robots were added to companies in 2021 despite the epidemic. This is the second-highest number after 2018—a record year in which the automobile sector made significant investments—and it represents a 6% rise in new installations. In Germany’s industries, there are now more than 345,000 industrial robots in use.

This indicates that Germany has the fourth-highest robot density globally and that no other nation in Europe has as many industrial robots in operation as this one. The industrial sites between Flensburg and Munich are home to around 33% of the industrial robots in Europe. Around 38% of robots are employed in the automotive sector, which is followed by the metalworking sector, the chemical processing sector, and the plastics and chemical processing sectors.

By Alby Butler

For Malevus, Alby Butler is an author specializing in technology. He excels in servers, Apple computers, and mobile platforms. He also publishes guides on mobile apps and games.