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Robots sales hit new record in North America

By: Bill Bregar

August 1, 2013

The Robotic Industries Association reports that North American robot makers set new sales records for the first half of 2013.

A total of 10,854 robots, valued at $679.3 million, were ordered from North American robot suppliers through June. RIA said that’s an increase of 1.9 percent in units over the same period 2012, and 1.3 percent higher than the previous first-half record, set in 2005.

Shipments to North American customers for the first half totaled 11,308 robots, valued at $715.1 million, breaking the previous first-half categories of orders and shipment set in 2012 by 11 percent in units and 10.4 percent in dollars.

Three of the four categories set new records, according to the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based robot trade group. Only automotive, traditionally a highly cyclical segment, declined by 5 percent, as first-half orders were up sharply to the tier suppliers, but down to automakers. Posting double-digit growth were robots sold to semiconductor manufacturing, life sciences and food and consumer goods.

“While the automotive industry is still the largest customer for robotics in North America, it is great to see such positive growth in other industries,” said RIA President Jeff Burnstein. “North American robotics companies continue to diversify the industries they serve, which is a positive sign for the long-term health of our industry.”

RIA estimates about 230,000 robots are now running at U.S. factories. That places the United States second only to Japan in robot use.

Burnstein said only about 10 percent of U.S. companies have installed robots. “A very large segment of small- and medium-sized companies who may have the most to gain are just now beginning to seriously investigate robotics,” he said.