August 9, 2011
Fueled by its best quarter in six years, the North American robotics industry jumped 41 percent in the first half of 2011, according to new statistics released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), Ann Arbor, Mich.
A total of 8,879 robots valued at $577.8 million were ordered by North American companies in the first six months of the year. When orders from outside North America are added, the totals are 10,476 robots valued at $667.9 million. "This was the best first half for our industry since 2007," said Jeff Burnstein, president of RIA.
The second quarter was particularly strong, posting gains of 50 percent in units and 55 percent in dollars over the same period in 2010.
Burnstein attributed the majority of growth to increased orders from automotive manufacturers and their suppliers, traditionally the largest customers for robotics. "With the revitalization of the auto industry in the U.S., robot orders to these customers rose 60 percent in the first half of the year," he said.
Nonautomotive orders increased 23 percent through June, led by gains in metalworking (up 70 percent).
Burnstein said the creation of a $500 million Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, which includes $70 million for a National Robotics Initiative, "could have a very positive long-term effect in keeping the U.S. a leader in robotics, both inside the factory and in a wide range of nonindustrial robotics sectors."
RIA estimates that some 205,000 robots are now used in the U.S. More than 1 million industrial robots are used worldwide.