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Robotics Industry Posts Strong First Quarter
April 26, 2013
North American robotics companies shattered previous opening quarter records for robots ordered and shipped in the first quarter of 2013, according to new statistics released from Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group. A total of 5,833 robots valued at $341.2 million were ordered from North American robotics companies through March, an increase of 14.5 percent in units over the same period in 2012 and 10 percent above the previous first quarter record set in 2005.
First quarter shipments to North American customers totaled 5,736 robots valued at $369.5, breaking the previous records for an opening quarter set in 2012 by 24.6 percent in units and 23.3 percent in dollars. The activity was especially strong in automotive components, food & consumer goods, semiconductor and electronics, life sciences and pharmaceuticals, and plastics & rubber, all of which posted double digit growth year over year.
“It is great to see the record demand for robots continuing into 2013, following our record-breaking year in 2012,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of RIA. “While activity continues to be strong with automotive OEMs and tier suppliers, the real story is the resurgence of other industries. Non-automotive orders grew 15 percent over 2012.” The biggest unit growth in applications came from arc welding (46.2 percent) and material handling (25.1 percent), both of which have historically been two of the strongest applications for robotics.
RIA estimates that some 228,000 robots are now at use in United States factories, placing the U.S. second only to Japan in robot use. “Many observers believe that only about 10 percent of the U.S. companies that could benefit from robots have installed any so far,” Burnstein said, “and among those that have the most to gain from robots are small and medium sized companies.”