Robot orders and shipments in North America set new records in 2014, according to Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.
A total of 27,685 robots valued at $1.6 billion were ordered from North American companies during 2014, an increase of 28% in units and 19% in dollars over 2013. Robot shipments also set new records, with 25,425 robots valued at $1.5 billion being shipped to North American customers in 2014. Shipments grew 13% in units and six percent in dollars over the previous records set in 2013.
The automotive industry was the primary driver of growth in 2014, with robot orders increasing 45% year over year. Non-automotive industries also performed well throughout the year, growing seven percent in total over 2013. The standout non-automotive industries in 2014 in terms of order growth were Plastics and Rubber (25%), Semiconductor and Electronics (21%), and Metals (16%).
According to Alex Shikany, Director of Market Analysis for RIA, the fastest growing applications for robot orders in North America in 2014 were Arc Welding (+58%), Spot Welding (+57%), Assembly (+16%), and Material Handling (+11%). RIA estimates that some 230,000 robots are now at use in United States factories, placing the U.S. second only to Japan in robot use.
“This is an extremely exciting time to be involved in the robotics industry,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of RIA. “Record sales performance, groundbreaking innovation, and increasing consumer interest all make the robotics industry so dynamic.”
Burnstein noted that the RIA and its parent group the Association for Advancing Automation are seeing the impacts of the growth in demand for automation in events like the upcoming Automate 2015 trade show.
“With six weeks to go, the exhibit floor at Automate 2015 is already over 70% larger than our 2013 event,” he said. “This growth is attributed to the fact that leading automation companies are reaching out to small and medium sized customers, many of whom are just now beginning to explore automation. This group makes up the core of the Automate 2015 attendee base, and early indicators are that the attendance in 2015 will be more than 50% higher than two years ago.”