North American robotics market surges 32% in unit volume: RIA

Tuesday May 09, 2017
Written by Robotic Industries Association
North American robotics market surges 32% in unit volume: RIA
PHOTO: Shutterstock
May 9, 2017 - North American robotics companies posted the strongest ever first-quarter results, according to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), a not-for-profit trade association, adding that both robot orders and shipments achieved record levels.

An all-time high total of 9,773 robots valued at roughly $516 million were ordered from North American robotics companies during the first quarter of 2017. This represents growth of 32 per cent in units over the same period in 2016, which held the previous record. Order revenue grew 28 per cent over the first quarter of last year. Robot shipments also reached new heights, with 8,824 robots valued at $494 million shipped to North American customers in the opening quarter of the year, noted RIA, adding that this represents growth of 24 per cent in units over the same period in 2016.

“The automation industry continues to grow robustly as companies invest to increase productivity and boost competitiveness while also providing opportunities for workers,” said Jeff Burnstein, RIA president. “We are excited to hear about the new jobs being created and how companies such as Amazon, GM and others are training and retraining their workforce to enable them to embrace these higher skilled jobs.”

Growth in automotive related industries soared in the first quarter of 2017. Robots ordered by automotive component suppliers were up 53 per cent while orders by automotive OEMs increased 32 per cent. Another good sign for the future of robotics was the continued growth in non-automotive industries like metals (54 per cent), semiconductors/electronics (22 per cent), and food & consumer goods (15 per cent).

The biggest increases were in arc welding (102 per cent), coating & dispensing (64 per cent), and spot welding (36 per cent) applications. RIA estimates that 250,000 robots are now in use in the United States, the third highest in the world behind Japan and China.

RIA and its parent group, the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), see the impact of the growth in demand for robotics and related automation at industry events such as Automate 2017, recently held in Chicago from April 3-6. Over 20,000 people attended Automate 2017, including over 1,000 participants in the 120+ Automate conference sessions held at the event.

“All of our statistics increased significantly from the last Automate show in 2015,” added Burnstein. “Total number of show attendees jumped 37 percent and conference participation grew by over 90 per cent compared to 2015. This growth demonstrates that there is an increasing need for an event like Automate that provides practical, real-world solutions for companies currently automating or considering automation.”

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