Industrial robots were first successfully applied by General Motors in the US in the 1960s, but fears over job losses impeded widespread adoption across industry. From the 1970s Japan established itself as world-leader in automation, and today has the highest operational stock of industrial robots in the world, with more than 300,000 in 2011, compared with 185,000 in the US. Many US and European manufacturers instead opted to offshore to maintain competitiveness, but with Asian wages rising and governments seeking to strengthen domestic manufacturing, the application of robotics is generating renewed interest. There are concerns though that British companies are lagging behind.
David Fuller's view The usage of industrial robots per 10,000 employees will grow exponentially. Japan and South Korea are in a strong position and I am impressed to see Italy in second place, slightly ahead of Germany in the use of multi-purpose robots for automobiles.Back to top