North American robotics market sets new records in 2015
Driven by the booming automotive industry, robot orders and shipments in North America set new records in 2015, according to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA).
A total of 31,464 robots valued at US$1.8 billion were ordered from North American companies during 2015, Ann Arbor, Mich.-based RIA said, an increase of 14% in units and 11% in dollars over 2014. Robot shipments also set new records, with 28,049 robots valued at US$1.6 billion shipped to North American customers in 2015. Shipments grew 10% in units and nine percent in dollars over the previous records set in 2014.
The automotive industry was the primary driver of growth in 2015, the RIA said, with robot orders increasing 19% year-over-year. “Non-automotive robot orders grew 5% over 2014,” the association said. “The leading non-automotive industry in 2015 in terms of order growth was semiconductors and electronics at 35%.”
According to Alex Shikany, director of market analysis for the RIA, the fastest-growing applications for robot orders in North America in 2015 were coating and dispensing (up 49%), material handling (up 24%), and spot welding (up 22%). RIA estimates that about 260,000 robots are now in use at North American factories, third only to Japan and China in robot use.
“Today there are more opportunities than ever before in the robotics industry,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of the RIA. “The continuing growth in robotics is opening many new job opportunities for people who can program, install, run, and maintain robots. In fact, if you look closer at the jobs discussion, automation is helping to save and create jobs. A lot of companies tell us they wouldn’t be in business without robotics and related automation.”
As proof, the RIA cites the fact that the record performance by the robotics market in North America coincides with falling unemployment. Last month, the United States’ Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the U.S. unemployment rate reached 4.9%, its lowest level since February of 2008.
Founded in 1974, the RIA is a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to improving the regional, national and global competitiveness of the North American manufacturing and service sectors. The RIA represents 375 robot manufacturers, system integrators, component suppliers, end users, consulting firms, research groups, and educational institutions.