According to new statistics released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry's trade group, with new orders up 20 percent, North American based robotics companies are in the midst of another strong year. In the first nine months, a total of 16,363 robots valued at $1.1 billion were ordered by companies in North America, an increase of 20 percent in units and 29 percent in dollars over the same period in 2011.
Valued at $1.25 billion, the totals are 18,844 robots which include numbers from outside North America. Through the third quarter, accounting for 64 percent of the new orders, the automotive OEM and component suppliers remain the robotics industry's biggest customers. Through September, sales to these two segments rose 45 percent. Other industries with increased robot orders include metalworking (up 13 percent) and life sciences/pharmaceutical/biomedical (up four percent).
"The strong automotive-related orders in 2012 are especially impressive given that sales to automotive tier suppliers and OEMS jumped by even greater amounts in 2011 (77 percent to automotive component suppliers, 59 percent to automotive OEMS)," said Jeff Burnstein, RIA's President.
John Dulchinos, president and CEO at Adept Technology, who Chairs the RIA Statistics Committee and serves on the RIA Board of Directors, mentioned that for major US manufacturing companies, the strong growth in 2012 continues to reinforce the significant value that robots provide as a productivity tool. Interest across a wide range of both manufacturing and non-manufacturing companies continues to build and will provide the foundation for long-term industry growth even as automotive remains the largest market.
Placing the US second only to Japan in robot use, RIA estimates that some 225,000 robots are now at use in United States factories. Burnstein concluded that many observers believe that only about 10 percent of the US companies that could benefit from robots have installed any so far and among those that have the most to gain from robots are small and medium sized companies.
Edited by Brooke Neuman