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Robot Sales Jump 39% in North America in First Half of 2007

POSTED 08/13/2007

Automotive Orders Rise 76%, Fueling Growth

Ann Arbor, Michigan – New orders received by North American based robotics companies rose 39% in the first half of 2007, according to new statistics from the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

A total of 9,208 robots valued at $525.2 million were ordered by North American manufacturing companies through June.  When orders to companies outside North America are included, total sales for North American based robot suppliers totaled 9,992 robots valued at $563.2 million.  These totals represent a gain of 40% in units and 12% in revenue.

The April to June quarter was very strong, with increases of 60% in units and 24% in revenue over the comparable period in 2006.

The 2007 gains can be traced primarily to a 76% jump in orders to automotive manufacturers and their suppliers.  ‘‘Automotive industry buying patterns for robots are quite cyclical and this year we’re seeing the upswing,’‘ said Jeffrey A. Burnstein, Executive Vice President of RIA.

Non-automotive orders declined five percent, though gains were reported in robot sales to life sciences/pharmaceutical/biomedical/medical devices (+13%) food & consumer goods (+11%), and a basket of ‘‘other industries’‘ that includes beverage & tobacco, apparel, wood products, paper, printing, machinery, furniture, and miscellaneous manufacturing companies (+11%).

‘‘We’re happy to see some of the non-automotive markets growing, but would like to see this extended to areas such as semiconductors & electronics, metals, and plastics & rubber, all of which showed declines through June,’‘ said Burnstein.

In terms of applications, spot welding orders posted the largest increase in the first six months of the year (150%), followed by coating & dispensing (38%) and material handling (25%).  ‘‘This is what you would expect to see when the automotive industry is ramping up its robot orders,’‘ Burnstein explained.

RIA estimates that more than 171,000 robots are now at work in U.S. factories, placing the U.S. second only to Japan in overall robot use.  Worldwide, there are more than one million industrial robots in operation.

Founded in 1974, RIA represents more than 250 North American companies including leading robot manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end user, research groups, and consulting firms.  RIA’s quarterly statistics are based on data supplier by member companies and represent an estimated 90% of the North American market.

For more information about RIA and the robotics industry, contact RIA Headquarters at 734-994-6088.


Jeff Burnstein