North American robotics shipments hit record numbers in 2013
February 11, 2014 by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
The North American robotics market recorded its best year ever in 2013 in terms of robot shipments, according to new statistics from Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.
A total of 22,591 robots valued at US$1.39 billion were shipped to companies in North America in 2013, beating the previous record of 20,328 robots valued at US$1.29 billion shipped in 2012. These new records for robotic shipments represent growth of 11 per cent in units and seven per cent in dollars.
When sales by North American robot suppliers to companies outside North America are included, the totals are 25,772 robots valued at US$1.57 billion.
While robot shipments set record highs in 2013, new orders fell. A total of 21,562 robots valued at US$1.34 billion were ordered from North American companies in 2013, representing a decrease of five per cent in units and 10 per cent in dollars from 2012. While the 2013 totals for robot orders represent a contraction from 2012, they remain the second highest annual figures ever recorded for North America.
“We are pleased to see another strong year for the robotics market in North America,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of RIA. “It’s exciting to see companies of all sizes continue to find value in automating with robotics.”
The top industries in terms of units ordered in 2013 were life sciences (73 per cent) and food and consumer goods (67 per cent).
“While the highly cyclical purchases by automotive companies contracted in 2013 for robotics, we saw strong growth in non-automotive industries,” said Alex Shikany, director of market analysis for RIA. “The total number of robots ordered for use in non-automotive industries grew 22 per cent over 2012,” he added.
In terms of applications for robot orders, increases were seen in assembly (61 per cent), material handling (13 per cent), and coating and dispensing (five per cent).
The robotics market in North America ended 2013 on a strong note. New robot orders in the fourth quarter of 2013 totalled 5,831, the third highest quarterly total ever recorded (RIA began recording data in 1984). RIA estimates that some 228,000 robots are now in use in United States factories, placing the U.S. second only to Japan in robot use.
“Many observers believe that only about 10 per cent of the U.S. companies that could benefit from robots have installed any so far,” Burnstein said. “A very large segment of small and medium-sized companies who may have the most to gain are just now beginning to seriously investigate robotics.”