A total of 5,096 robots valued at $343.8 million US were ordered from North American robotics companies through March, increases of 27 percent in units and 30 percent in dollars over the same period in 2011. A total of 4,605 robots valued at $299.6 million US were shipped to North American customers in the first quarter, the best opening quarter ever for shipments.
“It’s clear that the strong demand we saw in our record-breaking year of 2011 has continued into 2012,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of RIA. “The activity is especially strong among automotive OEMs and tier suppliers, where robot orders jumped 42 percent in the first quarter over a year ago. In fact, automotive-related orders accounted for 65 percent of the new orders in the first quarter of 2012. Non-automotive orders grew six percent,” Burnstein said.
The demand from the automotive sector also led to a change in the leading application area. Material handling robots have accounted for the most sales in recent years, but were overtaken in the first quarter by welding and soldering robots, typically found in automotive related applications.
A strong spot in the non-automotive sector was food and consumer goods, where orders jumped 31 percent in the first quarter of 2012.
“What we’re seeing in North America is consistent with what we’re seeing all over the world,” said John Dulchinos, president and CEO at Adept Technology, and Chair of RIA’s Statistical Collection Committee. “Robotics and automation is reaching every industry, driven by the need for increased productivity, quality, flexibility and speed.”