Robot orders surge 31 percent in first quarter of 2011

May 16, 2011

North American robotics companies enjoyed their best opening quarter since 2007, according to new statistics released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), Ann Arbor, Mich., the industry's trade group.

A total of 4,021 robots valued at $263.5 million were ordered by North American manufacturing companies through March, an increase of 31 percent in units and 27 percent in dollars.

"We’re very encouraged by the strong start to 2011 as a follow-up to the unit growth of 39 percent in 2010," said Jeff Burnstein, RIA's president. "However, we are a bit cautious about the next few quarters because of interruptions in the supply chain caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan."

RIA said that much of the new-order growth in the first quarter came from the automotive industry, where unit growth jumped 64 percent. While nonautomotive orders increased just 3 percent overall, the metals sector jumped 73 percent and life sciences/pharmaceutical/biomedical gained 61 percent.

"The automotive industry remains highly cyclical, and right now we're riding the upsurge in terms of automotive investment in robotics and automation," said John Dulchinos, chair of RIA's statistics committee and president and CEO at Adept Technology Inc.

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