Manufacturing AUTOMATION

North American robotics industry up 20% in 2012

October 30, 2012
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

North American-based robotics companies are in the midst of another strong year, with new orders up 20 per cent, according to new statistics released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

A total of 16,363 robots valued at $1.1 billion were ordered in the first nine months by companies in North America, an increase of 20 per cent in units and 29 per cent in dollars over the same period in 2011. Including numbers from outside North America, the totals are 18,844 robots valued at $1.25 billion.

The automotive OEM and component suppliers remain the robotics industry’s biggest customers, accounting for 64 per cent of the new orders through the third quarter. Sales to these two segments rose 45 per cent through September.

Other industries with increased robot orders include metalworking (up 13 per cent) and life sciences/pharmaceutical/biomedical (up four percent).

“The strong automotive-related orders in 2012 are especially impressive given that sales to automotive tier suppliers and OEMS jumped by even greater amounts in 2011 (77 per cent to automotive component suppliers, 59 per cent to automotive OEMS),” said Jeff Burnstein, RIA’s president, in a statement.

“The strong growth in 2012 continues to reinforce the significant value that robots provide as a productivity tool for major US manufacturing companies. While automotive remains the largest market, interest across a wide range of both manufacturing and non-manufacturing companies continues to build and will provide the foundation for long-term industry growth,” said John Dulchinos, president & CEO at Adept Technology, who chairs the RIA Statistics Committee and serves on the RIA Board of Directors, in a statement.

RIA estimates that some 225,000 robots are now at use in United States factories, placing the US second only to Japan in robot use. “Many observers believe that only about 10 per cent of the US companies that could benefit from robots have installed any so far,” Burnstein said, “and among those that have the most to gain from robots are small and medium sized companies.”

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