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North American robot shipments grew in 2013

By: Bill Bregar

February 7, 2014

Following a strong 2012, North American robot shipments recorded a record in 2013, as 22,591 robots were shipped, valued at $1.39 billion, the Robotic Industries Association reports.

That beat the previous record in 2012, of 20,328 robots, valued at $1.29 billion. The 2013 shipment numbers are up 11 percent in units and 7 percent in dollars from 2012, according to the trade group in Ann Arbor.

When you include sales by North American-based robot suppliers to companies outside of North America, RIA said the totals were 25,772 robots valued at $1.57 billion.

Although shipments set record highs for 2013, new orders fell by 5 percent in units and 10 percent in dollar value from the year before, to 21,562 robots valued at $1.34 billion. Even so, 2013 totals for orders remain the second highest annual figures ever for North America — so the outlook is good for 2014, the association said.

And the year finished strong for orders, reaching the third-highest quarterly total every recorded, since RIA began the data reporting in 1984.

“We are pleased to see another strong year for the robotics market in North America. It’s exciting to see companies of all sizes continue to find value in automating with robotics,” said RIA President Jeff Burnstein.

The top industries for orders in 2013 were life sciences and food and consumer goods.

“While the highly cyclical purchases by automotive companies contracted in 2013 for robotics, we saw strong growth in non-automotive purchases,” said Alex Shikany, director of market analysis for RIA. “The total number of robots ordered for use in non-automotive industries grew 22 percent over 2012.”