China will dominate the market for collaborative robots, set to expand at annual growth rates estimated at more than 20% to 2026. Growth will be driven chiefly by demand from logistics and service industries, according to new research from Interact Analysis, a U.K.-based, privately held market intelligence firm focused on global supply chain automation. And China is likely to account for more than 50% of both demand and production of the so-called cobots, says Maya Xiao, senior analyst at Interact.
Asked why China would be so dominant in the still-emerging sector of cobot production in the years ahead, Xiao said that, from the demand side, nearly half of all sales of cobots are now in China, and the ratio will grow in the next five years.
“Production capacity will become nearer, and surround where the customers are, to save shipping costs as well as to provide better service,” she said. On the supply side, Xiao said there are more and more Chinese brands in the cobot market. “The cobot supply chain/ecosystem is developing much quicker compared to other regions,” she said, adding that this includes not only the mechanical robotics, but the software and sensors needed to operate them.
Research from Interact Analysis shows that the cobot market enjoyed 45% growth in 2021, as part of a post-pandemic rebound.
By 2026, Interact predicts, the global collaborative robot market will be three times the size it was in 2021, exceeding $2 billion that year, and with shipment rates hitting 100,000 units.
Currently, there is strong uptake in the medical, education, logistics and catering fields. But, moving forward, Interact sees greater uptake within the industrial manufacturing industry, where cobots are helping to plug the gaps caused by ongoing labor shortages.
Interact said the Chinese market for collaborative robots continues to lead over the EMEA and Americas regions, and predicts that China’s market share by shipments will increase from 49.1% in 2021 to 54.4% in 2026. The firm predicts China’s 2022-2026 cobot CAGR will be 29% — the highest of all the global regions. In the Americas, where uptake of cobots — particularly in manufacturing — is much more cautious, sales are likely to retain the smallest market share overall, but will still grow at an impressive five-year CAGR of 19.4%, the firm said.
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