The World Robotics 2021 Industrial Robots report from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) shows a record of about 23,000 industrial robots operating in factories of the UK – an increase of 6%.
Sales of new robots were up by 8% to 2,205 units in 2020.
The automotive industry is by far the largest user of industrial robots in the UK: Sales rose by 16% to 875 units in 2020, representing 40% of the installations in the UK. The food and beverage industry almost doubled its installations from 155 units in 2019 to 304 units in 2020 (+96%). The food and beverage industry had a high share of foreign workers, often from Eastern Europe, and is facing a massive labour shortage.
With continued COVID-19- related travel restrictions as one reason and Brexit another, the demand for robots in the UK is expected to grow strongly at two-digit percentage rates in 2021 and 2022.
“The United Kingdom has a strong manufacturing industry that has surprisingly low annual robot installation counts,” commented Milton Guerry, president of the IFR. “Both, the automotive and the general industry need to invest in automation technology to keep up with international competitors.”
The newly installed 2,205 units in the UK are about 10 times less than the shipments in Germany (22,302 units), about four times less than in Italy (8,525 units) and less than half the number in France (5,368 units).
The “boom after crisis” is expected to fade slightly in 2022 on a global scale. From 2021 to 2024, average annual growth rates in the medium single-digit range are expected. Minor contractions may occur as a statistical effect, ‘catch-up’ occurs in 2022 or 2023. If this anomaly takes place, it will not break the overall growth trend. The notable mark of 500,000 units installed per year worldwide is expected to be reached in 2024.