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N. American robotic sales up in Q1 2013

North American robotics companies decimated previous first quarter records for robots ordered and shipped in 2013.


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May 8, 2013 by Canadian Plastics

North American robotics companies decimated previous first quarter records for robots ordered and shipped in 2013.

According to data compiled by industry trade group the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), a total of 5,833 robots valued at US$341.2 million were ordered from North American robotics companies through March 2013, an increase of 14.5 per cent in units over the same period in 2012 and 10 per cent above the previous Q1 record set in 2005.

RIA says Q1 shipments to North American customers totaled 5,736 robots valued at US$369.5 million, breaking the previous records for an opening quarter set in 2012 by 24.6 per cent in units and 23.3 per cent in dollars.

The activity was especially strong in automotive components, plastics and rubber manufacturing, food and consumer goods, semiconductor and electronics, and life sciences and pharmaceuticals, all of which posted double digit growth year over year.

“It is great to see the record demand for robots continuing into 2013, following our record-breaking year in 2012,” RIA president Jeff Burnstein said in a statement. “While activity continues to be strong with automotive OEMs and tier suppliers, the real story is the resurgence of other industries. Non-automotive orders grew 15 per cent over 2012.”

According to the RIA, the biggest unit growth in applications came from arc welding (46.2%) and material handling (25.1%), both of which have historically been two of the strongest applications for robotics.

The RIA estimates that some 228,000 robots are now at use in U.S., placing it second only to Japan in robot use.

“Many observers believe that only about 10 per cent of the U.S. companies that could benefit from robots have installed any so far,” Burnstein said, “and among those that have the most to gain from robots are small- and medium-sized companies.”

Founded in 1974, the RIA represents some 300 companies, including leading robot manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, research groups and consulting firms.