FRANKFURT, March 23 (Reuters) - Sales of industrial robots worldwide rose 27 percent in 2014, driven by demand from the automotive and electronics industries, especially in China and South Korea.
The International Federation of Robots said about 225,000 robots were sold in the year, almost two-thirds of them in Asia.
Robot sales in China, already the biggest market in the $9.5 billion robot trade, leapt 54 percent to about 56,000 units, the IFR said, as the country catches up with industrialised rivals.
Domestic Chinese robot suppliers delivered 16,000 of those 56,000, the IFR said, with foreign suppliers such as Switzerland’s ABB, Germany’s Kuka and Japan’s Yaskawa and Fanuc supplying the rest.
China has just 30 robots per 10,000 workers employed in manufacturing industries, compared with 437 in South Korea, but is racing to increase that proportion as wage inflation erodes the competitiveness of Chinese labour.
The biggest markets last year after China were South Korea, Japan, the United States and Germany, the IFR said, with these five markets representing three-quarters of all sales globally. (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Tom Heneghan)