Industrial Robotics Rises in North America

Nov. 15, 2011
North American based robotics companies are enjoying one of their best years ever, with orders up 41% through September.
"In the first nine months of the year the industry has received orders for more robots than in all of 2010, which was also a very good year," said Jeff Burnstein, President of Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group which released the new data.

A total of 13,616 robots valued at $848.5 million were ordered in the first nine months by companies in North America. When orders to companies outside North America are included, the totals are 15,683 robots valued at $968 million.

The automotive OEM and component suppliers are the biggest customers, accounting for 53% of the new orders. Sales to these segments, which are traditionally the largest for the robotics industry, rose 56% through September.

"The Tier suppliers to the automotive OEMs have really accelerated their purchases this year, with orders jumping 84%," Burnstein noted.

In non-automotive segments, orders are up 28% in the first nine months of 2011. Metalworking and general industry lead the way here, with sales up 55% and 45% respectively in these categories. The semiconductor / electronics / photonics segment is up over nine percent.

The biggest applications gains so far in 2011 are in assembly (+97%), coating & dispensing (+71%), arc welding (+66%), spot welding (+47%) and material handling (+28%).

"The long-term outlook for robotics in North America remains very strong as more and more companies in all industries become aware of the positive impact robots have on productivity, quality, manufacturing costs, and time to market," said John Dulchinos, Chair of RIA’s Statistics Committee and President & CEO at Adept Technology, Pleasanton, California.

RIA estimates that some 210,000 robots are now at use in United States factories, placing the US second only to Japan in robot use. "Many observers believe that only about 10% of the US companies that could benefit from robots have installed any so far," Burnstein said.

RIA’s quarterly statistics report is based on data supplied by its 265 member companies.

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