North American robot orders up
North American-based robotics companies reported strong gains in the first nine months of 2010, according to new statistics released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.
In Canada, which accounts for about nine percent of the North American market, robot orders jumped 67 percent in units in the first nine months of 2010, over the same period last year. Robot orders by North American manufacturers jumped 34 percent in units and 45 percent in dollars over the same period in 2009, representing a total of 9,628 robots valued at $618.4 million US. Companies outside of North America ordered another 1,778 robots valued at $102.6 million US from North American-based robotics companies during the period, a gain of 143 percent in units and 168 percent in dollars over the first nine months of 2009.
"Overall, 2010 has been a solid recovery year for the robotics industry in North America," said Jeff Burnstein, president of RIA. "What really jumps out at me is that orders placed by non-automotive customers in North America jumped 53 percent and accounted for 52 percent of all orders through September. Orders to automotive-related customers, the largest robotics market, increased 18 percent, which is still quite healthy given the downsizing in North American automotive manufacturing operations," Burnstein explained.
Burnstein said the biggest gains in non-automotive orders came in semiconductor/electonics/photonics (up 124 percent), metals (up 99 percent), plastics/rubber (up 62 percent), life sciences/pharmaceuticals/medical devices (up 54 percent), and food/consumer goods (up 41 percent),
In automotive, the biggest increase was in orders to the automotive component suppliers (up 58 percent) as opposed to the automotive manufacturers (up two percent).
In terms of applications, the biggest gains came in orders for coating dispensing (up 78 percent), arc welding (up 65 percent) and material handling (up 60 percent).
Burnstein expects to see continued growth in the material handling sector, the largest application area for robots, as robots expand into more industries.