German robotics and automation is on course for growth: The sales volume reached a new high of EUR 12.8 billion (2016). Since the economic crisis, turnover in the sector has more than doubled in seven years. For the current business year, VDMA forecasts an increase in growth of 7 percent. “In the global race to modernize the industry, the market players from Germany are benefitting from a robust economy. Our sector is looking optimistically to the future,” said Dr. Norbert Stein, Chairman of the VDMA Robotics + Automation Association at the annual press conference on Tuesday in Frankfurt.
The sales volume of the three segments – robotics, integrated assembly solutions and machine vision – rose from EUR 6.2 billion in 2009 to EUR 12.8 billion (2016). For 2017, VDMA is anticipating a record sales volume in robotics and automation of EUR 13.7 billion.
Foreign business continues to soar
Export sales rose by almost 9 percent, domestic business continued at a record level. Germany remains the largest single market with a 43 percent share of turnover. With regard to international sales, Europe is the largest driver of growth with a share of 30 percent, while China accounted for 10 percent and North America for 9 percent. German exports of robotics and automation rose to 57 percent.
A comparison of the three segments
Integrated assembly solutions remains the largest subsector of the German robotics and automation industry. Sales rose by 2 percent to EUR 7 billion. Domestic business increased by 3 percent and exports by 1 percent. The automotive industry is the number one customer of assembly solution providers accounting for 69 percent of turnover. For 2017, VDMA forecasts a turnover increase of 6 percent to reach a new record of EUR 7.4 billion.
German robotics generated an 8 percent increase in sales year-on-year reaching a total turnover of EUR 3.6 billion climbing to a new record high. According to the latest figures of the International Federation of Robotics, Germany ranks fifth worldwide with an operational stock of 189,400 industrial robots. In terms of units, production increased by 21 percent. For 2017, VDMA forecasts a sales increase of at least 8 percent to EUR 3.8 billion.
Machine vision followed the growth trend with a 9 percent increase in sales. Domestic business rose by 3 percent and exports by 14 percent. For 2017, the VDMA forecast anticipates a 10 percent sales increase.
Digitalization opportunities for the labor market
Labor supply in Germany will be significantly reduced by 2040. Reason: When the baby boomer generation retires, year groups with low birth rates will succeed them. It is estimated that, the available labor force in Germany will shrink by 10 million people by 2040. This corresponds to a decrease of 20 percent.
To adapt to this new labor market situation, digital transformation through robotics and automation will play a key role: “Demography and digitalization offer the unique opportunity for Germany to combine innovation, qualification and competitiveness over the coming decades into a positive alliance of economic strength and social solidarity,” says Dr. Horst Neumann of the “Institut für die Geschichte und Zukunft der Arbeit” (IGZA – Institute for the history and future of work) in Berlin. “An accelerated digitalization and the resulting increases in productivity are necessary to safeguard competitiveness and to create the foundations for the financing of infrastructure, education, and the pension system.”