North American robot orders jump 24% in 2007

MARCH 6, 2008--North American-based robotics companies saw orders to North American manufacturing companies rise 24% in 2007, according to a new report released by the RIA (Ann Arbor, MI, USA).

Mar 6th, 2008

MARCH 6, 2008--North American-based robotics companies saw orders to North American manufacturing companies rise 24% in 2007, reversing the declines of the previous year, according to a new report released by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA; Ann Arbor, MI, USA), the industry's trade group. A total of 15,856 robots valued at $1.07 billion were ordered by North American manufacturing companies. When sales to companies outside North America are included, the totals rise to 17,261 robots valued at $1.15 billion

"We're obviously very pleased to see strong growth in 2007, especially following the 30% decline in 2006," said Åke Lindqvist of ABB Robotics and chairman of the RIA statistics committee. "Most of the growth last year resulted from sales to automotive manufacturers and their suppliers. In this market segment, which accounted for 64% of all orders, robot sales in North America rose 43%," Lindqvist noted.

"Orders to nonautomotive markets grew less than 1% and accounted for just 36% of all orders. The robotics industry's future expansion depends upon reaching more nonautomotive customers, and we still have a long way to go. However, we are encouraged by a 16% gain in sales to life-sciences/pharmaceutical/biomedical customers and an 8% increase in sales to food and consumer-goods companies," Lindqvist added.

"Automotive purchases of robots remain cyclical, and our members are quite accustomed to this pattern," said Jeffrey A. Burnstein, executive vice president of the RIA. "For instance, as automotive companies went on a buying spree in 2007, orders for spot-welding robots increased 100%, coating & dispensing rose 38%, material handling jumped 14%, and arc welding jumped 10%," Burnstein explained.

For 2008, RIA has major plans in place to help reach new customers in nonautomotive markets, Burnstein indicated. "Our Robots 2008 Conference (June 11 & 12, Boston, MA, USA) will focus on industries such as food, medical, and pharmaceutical. We'll present case studies, business justifications for using robots in these industries and practical applications knowledge that attendees can put to immediate use. And, we're also in the process of revamping our Robotics Online Web site (www.roboticsonline.com) to add more information for nonautomotive customers. Our latest addition is a tutorial aimed at companies involved in the plastics industry--we have a free tutorial that makes a strong case for using robots in various plastics industry applications," Burnstein said.

The RIA estimates that some 178,000 robots are now at work in US factories, placing the USA second only to Japan in overall robot use. More than 1 million robots are installed worldwide.

Founded in 1974, the RIA represents more than 270 North American companies, including leading robot manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, research groups, and consulting firms. The RIA quarterly statistics report is based on data supplied by member companies representing an estimated 90% of the North American market.

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