Global robotics picked for growth

According to a report from Business Communications Co. Inc. (BCC; Norwalk, CT; www.bccresearch.com), RG-270 Robots/Automation Devices, the 2002 global robotics market, made up of whole robots, robot parts, robot software, and safety materials, racked up sales of $8.16 billion.

According to a report from Business Communications Co. Inc. (BCC; Norwalk, CT; www.bccresearch.com), RG-270 Robots/Automation Devices, the 2002 global robotics market, made up of whole robots, robot parts, robot software, and safety materials, racked up sales of $8.16 billion. The report projects that this market will nearly double to $16.17 billion by 2007, as it expands at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 14.7%.

Although robots used in industrial processes should continue strongly in automated manufacturing activities, the higher gains in whole-robot sales are expected to focus on mobile robots (see Vision Systems Design, March, 2003, p. 60). Self-sufficient or autonomous mechanical robots are projected to find widespread applications in environments actively looking for cost-effective automated control, such as factories, homes, hospitals, and plants, by 2007.

BCC anticipates double-digit gains in all robot sectors. Whole robots should achieve more than $8.66 billion in sales with a 53% market share at a nearly 17% AAGR. Trailing behind is the robot-parts sector at $5.07 billion, with a 31% market share at a 11.1% growth rate. Farther behind are the safety-materials and robot-software sectors at $1.7 and $0.8 billion, respectively.

Another recent report from BCC, RB-182 Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery (MRCAS) Market, states that the US market for medical robotics and computer-assisted surgical equipment grew from $105 million in 1999 to an estimated $245 million in 2002, at an AAGR of 32.6%. The market is projected to grow at an AAGR of 22.4% over the next five years, reaching $673 million by 2007.

The global market for MRCAS was an estimated $433 million in 2002 and is projected to exceed $1.1 billion by 2007, at an AAGR of 21.6%. The US market

accounted for an estimated 56.6% of global MRCAS sales in 2002, projected to increase to 58.4% by 2007. Europe was the second-largest regional MRCAS market in 2002, with estimated sales of $108 million (25% of the global market), followed by Japan with $44 million (10%), and other countries with a total of $36 million (8%).

Market figures released by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA; Ann Arbor, MI; www.roboticsonline.com) reveal that North American manufacturing companies ordered 10,573 robots valued at $811 million from North American-based robotics suppliers in 2002, an increase of 6% in units and 5% in revenues from 2001 numbers. The RIA estimates that some 126,000 robots are now being used in the United States, second only to Japan.

Donald A. Vincent, RIA executive vice president, summarizes the status of the robotics market by pointing out that even in a difficult environment for all capital-equipment industries, robot orders rose last year. No matter what happens in 2003, says Vincent, manufacturing companies can't delay investments in new equipment indefinitely. To compete in the global market, manufacturers in all industries will eventually increase their investments in productive technologies, such as robots, that can help them boost productivity and reduce overall manufacturing costs, he adds.

George Kotelly,
Editor in Chief
georgek@pennwell.com

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