Robotics Market Remains Hot in North America; New Orders Jump 12% in First Half of 2004
Ann Arbor, Michigan – Demand for robotics technology is hot, as evidenced by double-digit gains in new orders received by North American robotics manufacturers in the first half of 2004.
New figures released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group, show that North American manufacturing companies ordered 7,852 robots valued at $473.3 million through June, an increase of 12% in units and six percent in dollars over the first half of 2003. An additional 687 robots valued at $39.7 million were sold to companies outside of North America, a gain of 226% in units and 104% in dollars over the same period last year. Combined, the North American and outside North America sales yield gains of 18% in units and 10% in dollars.
‘‘The opening half of 2004 was very strong,’‘ said Donald A. Vincent, Executive Vice President of RIA. ‘‘It’s clear that the improvement in the North American economy, combined with pent-up demand for robots, fueled solid gains for our industry.
‘‘It was apparent at our Robots 2004 Conference in June that many companies, particularly small and medium sized ones, are just beginning to look at how robots can help them solve manufacturing challenges. The need to produce higher quality products at a lower price, and to be fast and flexible enough to compete with competitors throughout the world, is leading many companies to buy robots,’‘ Vincent explained.
Vincent said that most of the gains are coming in non-automotive markets, a healthy sign for the industry. ‘‘Auto companies and their suppliers remain the largest market for robot manufacturers, accounting for about 65% of the sales in North America. However, this is down from about 75% a year ago. We’re seeing very healthy gains in industries such as semiconductors and electronics, metals, plastics and rubber, food and consumer goods, and life sciences and pharmaceuticals,’‘ he noted.
New orders for material handling robots, the largest application area, grew 26% in the first half of the year. Strong gains also were seen in material removal (33%) and arc welding (18%).
RIA estimates that some 140,000 industrial robots are now being used in the United States. The association collects and reports statistics each quarter based on actual totals provided by member companies, which RIA estimates represent more than 90% of the North American robotics market.
Founded in 1974, RIA is now celebrating its 30th anniversary. The trade group represents some 230 robot manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, research groups and consulting firms. Many members will attend RIA’s annual Robotics Industry Forum in Orlando, November 17-19, 2004, to learn about the latest industry developments and emerging trends.
For complete details on the robotics industry, visit www.robotics.org or contact RIA Headquarters at 734/994-6088.