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North American Robotics Companies Post Best Year Since 2007

POSTED 02/07/2011

Arbor, MI – North American based robotics companies reported strong growth in 2010, posting the best year since 2007, according to new statistics released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

North American robot suppliers reported orders of 13,174 robots valued at $845.6 million from North American based companies, increases of 39% in units and 49% in dollars.  When orders from customers outside North America are included, the totals are 15,860 robots valued at $993.2 million, gains of 52% in units and 58% in dollars.

“It was a great year for the robotics industry, not just in North America, but worldwide,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “The demand for robotics took off once the ‘Great Recession’ ended, as companies resumed investments in technology that improves productivity, quality, flexibility and time to market, key benefits of robotics.”

The automotive industry, including OEMs and their suppliers, accounted for 51% of the North American orders in 2010.  Orders to this sector, the largest user in North America, were up 34% in units.

Non-automotive orders jumped 46%, fueled by large gains in orders from metalworking (+90%), semiconductor/electronics/photonics (+66%), plastics & rubber (+57%), food & consumer goods (+47%), and life sciences/pharmaceuticals/biomedical/medical devices (+26%).

“The acceleration of orders to customers in all sectors, particularly non-automotive industries, is great news for the robotics industry,” said John Dulchinos, Chair of RIA’s Statistics Committee and President & CEO at Adept Technology.  “For robotics to achieve its full potential it must make further headway into nearly every industry, manufacturing and non-manufacturing alike,” Dulchinos observed.

One of the industries offering very strong potential for robotics is warehousing, Dulchinos noted.  “Large distribution centers have a wide variety of tasks that could be automated, but aren’t yet,” said Dulchinos.  The largest show for warehousing is ProMat, which is collocated with the Automate Show (www.automate2011.com) sponsored by RIA at McCormick Center in Chicago, March 21-24, 2011. 
“The collocation offers ProMat participants a great chance to learn about robotic solutions and Automate participants a glimpse of the vast potential opportunities that exist for robotics in warehousing,“ Burnstein observed.  “I’m hopeful Automate will provide a strong boost to the robotics industry to build upon its 2010 gains.”

RIA estimates that some 200,000 industrial robots are now used in the United States, placing the United States second only to Japan in overall robot use.  More than one million industrial robots are used worldwide.

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

For more information on RIA and the robotics industry, visit www.robotics.org or call RIA Headquarters at 734/994-6088.

Jeff Burnstein