Robots make Denmark a frontrunner in European productivity race

During the years of crisis, robots have found their way into Danish factories. This has made the Danish industrial workers more efficient, which means that they are now outperforming Denmark’s neighbouring countries. This looks promising in regards to more jobs in the industry in the future.

An analysis from the trade union Danish Metal Workers' Union shows that the growth in productivity is nearly 38 per cent measured from the beginning of 2009 to the end of September 2013. In the same period, productivity only increased by 20 per cent in the 15 old EU member countries.

30 per cent more robots in only four years
According to the Union, the explanation is not least that Danish companies increasingly have automated the production, which is evident from the number of industrial robots being used today. When the crisis started in 2008, there were about 4,600 industrial robots in Denmark, whereas more than 6,000 industrial robots had been installed in 2012, which is the most recently calculated year. This represents an increase of more than 30 per cent in only four years.

"The robots are a clear indication that companies are automating the production. Everything seems to indicate that Danish companies have continued to invest in robots, and when businesses automate, salary will no longer be a factor for companies' overall economy", says Allan Lyngsø Madsen, chief economist at the Danish Metal Workers' Union.

"Companies are good at benefitting from the industrial robots. Workflows are being modified, inventory is being organized and employees are being retrained, so the robots can be fully utilized. It is not enough just to buy the robot and then hope that everything works out", explains Allan Lyngsø Madsen.

In 2011, the Danish industrial companies were at the same level as before the crisis, but the growth in productivity is still increasing in Denmark. From the beginning of 2011 to the third quarter of 2013 alone, productivity increased by 14 per cent, while productivity in the 15 old EU countries increased by only 1.3 per cent during two years. In Germany, productivity declined by 1.1 per cent.