Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Robot orders down in 2008


ANN ARBOR, Mich. – North American-based robot companies saw new orders from North American manufacturing companies decline 19 percent through September 2008 compared to the same period in 2007, according to statistics released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

A total of 10,279 robots valued at $743.4 million were ordered by North American manufacturing companies through September. When orders to companies outside of North America are included, the totals are 11,503 robots valued at $811.9 million, a decline of 17 percent in units and 10 percent in dollars over the same period in 2007.

“Given the financial crisis in North America and the especially hard-hit automotive sector, we’re not surprised by the overall decline,” said Jeffrey A. Burnstein, RIA’s executive vice-president. “Orders from North American auto manufacturers and suppliers, sectors which annually account for more than half of annual robot orders, fell 36 percent in units and 26 percent in dollars through September. We don’t expect to see automotive orders recover anytime soon,” Burnstein noted.

“We are encouraged, though, by the year-to-date increase in non-automotive orders,” said Tammy Mulcahy of ABB Robotics, chair of RIA’s statistics committee. “Orders received from non-automotive industries increased 15 percent in units and 10 percent in dollars in the first nine months of the year.”

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“Our members are quite concerned about 2009, but the financial crisis will surely ease at some point and robots will be near the top of the purchasing list for many manufacturing companies in a wide variety of industries,” Burnstein added.