In this unpredictable economy, certain sectors have underperformed in recent years. But that cannot be said for the robotics industry which, according to reports, closed out 2012 with its strongest year ever.
Compared to 2011, orders of robots were up by 17 percent, in terms of units, and 27 percent in terms of dollars. The 2012 totals (including robots sold overseas) were 25,557 robots valued at $1.66 billion. And the year ended on a strong note, with 6,235 robots sold to North American companies in the final three months of the year.
All of these numbers add up to the biggest year ever, according to the Robotics Industries Association, the trade group for the robotics industry in North America. Sales were up across verticals, including a 12 percent increase in the metalworking industry and a 3 percent rise in the life sciences/pharmaceuticals space.
“It is promising to see such positive growth in robotics despite the tumultuous manufacturing environment throughout 2012” Jeff Burnstein, president of RIA, said in a statement. “This growth is an indication that more North American companies are looking to automate in order to reduce costs and increase productivity, and that is a good sign for robotics.”
The next question, of course, is whether this hot trend will continue into 2013 and beyond. While Burstein does not make specific sales forecasts, he is optimistic about the future. “The increased demand for robotics was evident at this year’s Automate show in Chicago, which had record setting attendance levels,” he said. “It is clear that people are excited about automation and the benefits it provides.”
Edited by Carlos Olivera