Despite the weakening global economic situation a further robot sales increase of about 9% to about 181,000 units is likely. The sales increase will mainly be driven by the automotive industry and the electronics industry as well as by the increasing number of customers with low-volume orders from other industries. The main impulses are coming from North America, China, Brazil and Central- and Eastern European countries as well as from Japan due to the restoration of the damaged production facilities. Robot supply to the Republic of Korea will again grow in 2012, but only moderately after the strong investments of the past years. Robot sales in Germany will reach almost the peak level of 2011 while in Italy and Spain a decrease due to the worsening of the economic situation is likely. Robot supplies to France and the United Kingdom are expected to increase according to announcements of the automotive industry and other industries. Robot supply to the Americas will increase by 17% and to Asia/Australia by 12% while robot sales to Europe will only slightly increase by 2%.
Between 2013 and 2015 worldwide robot sales will increase by about 5% on average per year: about 5% in the Americas, about 6% in Asia/Australia, and about 2% in Europe. The opening up of huge consumer markets in the BRIC countries, in South East Asia, in Turkey and also in the Middle Eastern countries will guarantee the increasing consumer demand which is necessary for further investments in automation within these countries. Energy-efficiency and light weight construction materials are the main challenges for the manufacturing industry. The automotive industry will continue to be the innovator for new technology. However, a cyclical decrease of investments of the automotive industry is likely in this period. The electrical/electronics industry will continue to automate in order to increase productivity and to improve quality of work for employees especially in Asia. The number of more easy-to-use robots as well as robots collaborating with human workers will increase in small and medium size companies. Improved and easier integration of industrial robots will provide more applications for industrial robots.
Certain risks are involved with regard to this rather optimistic forecast: Financial problems of the major markets may reduce growth of the world economy or even cause a recession. This may result in decreasing investments also in robotics. In that case, although planned investments might be restrained for a while, the trend towards automation will continue at a later point in order to increase productivity, profitability and to guarantee sustainability of industrial production. But these are not the only reasons for the eventual increase of robot sales. Dangerous, tedious and dirty working conditions for human workers must be abolished worldwide and robots provide the only solution. Robots save jobs and create jobs because robots carry out work that would otherwise not be economically viable and save and increase manufacturing jobs by increasing the competitiveness of a manufacturing company, robots save and increase jobs throughout the community in general. This means that restaurants, shops and the service economy also benefit from this valuable ripple effect, robots carry out work which is dangerous, tedious and dirty for humans, robots carry out work that would be impossible for humans.