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Robotics Industry Off to a Great Start in 2012

POSTED 05/01/2012

Arbor, Michigan – North American robotics companies enjoyed one of the industry’s strongest opening quarters ever, according to new statistics released from Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

A total of 5,096 robots valued at $343.8 million were ordered from North American robotics companies through March, increases of 27% in units and 30% in dollars over the same period in 2011.

A total of 4,605 robots valued at $299.6 million were shipped to North American customers in the first quarter, the best opening quarter ever for shipments.

“It’s clear that the strong demand we saw in our record-breaking year of 2011 has continued into 2012,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “The activity is especially strong among automotive OEMs and tier suppliers, where robot orders jumped 42% in the first quarter over a year ago. In fact, automotive-related orders accounted for 65% of the new orders in the first quarter of 2012. Non-automotive orders grew six percent,” Burnstein said.

The demand from the automotive sector also led to a change in the leading application area. Material handling robots have accounted for the most sales in recent years, but were overtaken in the first quarter by welding and soldering robots, typically found in automotive related applications.

A strong spot in the non-automotive sector was food & consumer goods, where orders jumped 31% in the first quarter of 2012.

“What we’re seeing in North America is consistent with what we’re seeing all over the world,” said John Dulchinos, President & CEO at Adept Technology, Pleasanton, California and Chair of RIA’s Statistical Collection Committee. “Robotics and automation is reaching every industry, driven by the need for increased productivity, quality, flexibility, and speed.”

RIA estimates that some 216,000 robots are now used in the United States, placing the US second only to Japan in robot use.

Founded in 1974, RIA represents some 265 member companies, including leading robot manufacturers, 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 Robotics Online or call RIA Headquarters at 734/994-6088.