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North American robot sales up in 2019

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Economy Market Forecast Robots & Automation

According to new figures from the Robotic Industries Association, the largest driver of this growth was an increase in orders from automotive OEMs, followed by plastics and rubber, and food and consumer goods.

Robot orders in North America were up 5.2 per cent through the third quarter of this year, with 23,894 robotic units ordered, a value of US$1.3 billion.

That’s according to new stats released on Nov. 21 from the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Robotic Industries Association (RIA).

Looking at third-quarter results only, North American companies ordered 7,446 robots, valued at US$438 million. Both units ordered and revenue are up one per cent in the quarter compared to 2018.

According to RIA, the largest driver of the year-to-date growth in units ordered was an increase in orders from automotive OEMs at 47 per cent, followed by plastics and rubber at 15 per cent, and food and consumer goods at 4 per cent.


“We continue to see improvement in the robotics market,” RIA president Jeff Burnstein said in a statement. “At this time last year, we saw a dip in orders of around 15 per cent, so it’s encouraging to see a recovery through the third quarter. We hope to end the year strong and see growth in 2020 as well.”

Burnstein said he sees strong interest in robotics from companies that have never invested in robots before, citing the fact that prospective users from a wide variety of industries were among the 300+ attendees at the recent Collaborative Robots, Advanced Vision and AI Conference the association sponsored in San Jose, Calif.

In addition, orders from non-automotive customers remain near record numbers, a “healthy sign” for the long-term growth of the robotics industry, Burnstein said.

RAI also said that the increase in the use of robotics and other forms of automation is actually helping create and save jobs, “unlike the narrative many politicians continue to spread.” For example, recent research shows that over the past 22 years, in every period that robot sales went up, unemployment in the U.S. went down. “Conversely, when robot sales went down, unemployment went up,” RIA said. “In fact, during the greatest period of expansion of robot use in America – from 2010 to today – around 180,000 robots have been shipped to American companies, and more than 1.2 million new manufacturing jobs were created. Unemployment has dropped from almost 10 per cent to under 4 per cent”.


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