The global sales of new industrial robots in 2018 was increased by 6 %, while in Poland this increase amounted to as much as 40 %. This result, which is very optimistic, however may not prevail the real level of robotization of the Polish industry which is still far behind not only the global or European leaders, but even the most industrialized countries from our region of Europe.
As per the statistics of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), approx.1.33 million industrial robots worldwide operated in 2013, however at the end of the last year the number already amounted to 2.44 million. And although in 2018 the growth rate with regard to this area was decreased to 6 %, and in this year, the number of new robots is to be similar to the one of the previous year, the IFR experts predict that in the next four years there will be more robots globally each year - by an average of 13-15 % per year. If these estimates come true, by the end of 2022 the global number of industrial robots will equal approx. 4 million.
That rapid growth rate is primarily caused by China and other Asian countries, which dominate in the IFR report summarizing the year of 2018. Most new industrial robots were installed in industrial facilities located in China (154,000) despite a 1 % drop. In total, approx. 650 thousand industrial robots are already employed in China.
Europe before Asia
In absolute numbers, compared to the Asian market, the European robotics market clearly loses, although in 2018, the sales of industrial robots on the Old Continent increased by 14 %, reaching 74,695 units. However, the European market remains the leader in the category of robotization density (this ratio determines the number of robots per 10,000 persons employed in industry). In 2018, the global robotization density was 99 robots per 10,000 employees, including in Europe: 114, in both Americas a total of 99, and only 91 in Asia.
In 2018, the sales of industrial robots dropped by 8 % in Central and Eastern Europe, which was caused by the drops primarily in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In the Czech Republic, the number of new robots was 6% (2725) lower than the year before, however the country remained in the top fifteen countries having the largest number of new robots. The number of new installations in Slovakia dropped by 38 % (749).
Despite these declines, these countries experience a higher robotization density than the density level in Poland. In this regard, Slovakia is the leader with its 165 robots per 10,000 industrial workers. In the Czech Republic, this ratio amounts to 135. Against the competition, the Polish industry results are poor – the robotization density ratio in this country in 2018 was only 42 units per 10,000 employees.
Beginning of the Polish boom?
In 2018, the number of new robots in the Polish industry increased by as much as 40 % and reached the level of 2,651 units, which is therefore slightly less than in the Czech Republic. At the end of last year, 13,632 industrial robots were employed in total in industrial facilities in Poland. As per forecasts, the number of new installations will increase by 15-20 % per year in the next three years. This means that in 2021 we may expect 4 to 4.5 thousand new installations of industrial robots.
The automotive sector proved the largest share in last year's sales of industrial robots. Every third new robot in Poland reached the mentioned section, i.e. 883 sold units meant at the same time a 48 % increase in sales. The plastics and chemical products sector took a second place in this respect demonstrating a 15 % market share and 407 new industrial robots. The third place belongs to the metal and machinery sector with a 9 % share and 227 units sold.
The automotive sector is also the undisputed leader with regard to robotization density. In 2018, 189 robots worked per 10,000 employees in this industrial sector. The total density ratio was only 29 units in all other sectors, which explicitly demonstrates that the Polish industry has a long way to reach even the average level of robotization. Last year, as much as 56 % of new industrial robots, which constitutes the largest number, were used for works related to transportation of various elements and the operation of machinery. 17 % of new robots supported various works in welding processes, and 3.7 % of them were used in assembly works.
Less and less barriers
The slow robotization growth rate until 2018 in Poland was caused by several various factors. Firstly, Polish enterprises reported technical and economic barriers. Mental barriers also constituted a significant issue, as robotization of production is often associated with the need for revolutionary changes in the organizational structure of a company.
It seems that the first two barriers have already become less relevant. Due to technological progress in the field of robotization, the costs of implementation of robotic solutions to production decreased significantly. This particularly refers to collaborative robots. Although, on a global scale, robots still constitute a fraction of total sales (in 2018 their sales amounted to approx. 14 thousand pieces), however they are facing a very optimistic future. The return on investment in a small robot has currently shortened in Poland to the period of two years only, thus owners of small and medium-sized companies more often consider robotization of production.