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Robot Sales Boom

Buoyed by 44 percent growth in robot orders this year from the automotive industry, North American robot companies look for a record year in 2005.

Aw 5398 Robot Chart

With new orders in North America up by 30 percent during the first nine months this year, North American robotics companies are on pace for a record year in 2005, according to new statistics from the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based trade group.

The automotive industry, traditionally the largest robotics user, has increased its robot orders by 44 percent, the RIA said. In all, a total of 14,840 robots valued at $913.3 million had been ordered through September by North American manufacturing companies. When sales to companies outside North America are added in, the totals are 15,791 robots, valued at $961.5 million.

“We expect that the final year-end numbers will set a record for total robots ordered, eclipsing the mark set in 1999, and will come close to a record in terms of revenue,” said Donald A. Vincent, RIA executive vice president. Among factors contributing to the upswing, Vincent cited falling robotic prices over the past several years, making them more affordable for all manufacturers. The auto industry, in particular, is finding new applications for robots in order to boost productivity, increase flexibility, improve quality and reduce overall manufacturing costs, Vincent said.

According to RIA figures, the biggest growth areas this year have been for robots used in material handling, arc welding, and spot welding, at 45 percent, 37 percent and 19 percent growth respectively. In addition to automotive, Vincent said that metalworking industries are increasing their purchases of robots this year, as are companies in life sciences, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors and electronics.

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