North American robot sales sank 30 percent through the first nine months of 2009, with declines in both automotive and general industrial robots, according to the Robotic Industries Association.
In automotive, the largest sector, robot sales fell through September by 29 percent in units and 44 percent measured in dollars, compared with the year-earlier period. Robots for automakers typically account for more than 60 percent of new robot orders in North America. Orders in non-automotive sectors also fell sharply, down 32 percent in units and 41 percent in dollars, RAI reported.
“The North American robotics industry is facing its stiffest test in more than two decades right now as it intensifies its efforts to reach a wide range of non-automotive customers to offset the cutbacks by the automotive industry,” RIA President Jeff Burnstein said.
Two bright spots , RIA said, are life sciences and food/consumer goods. Orders were up in both sectors, according to RIA in Ann Arbor.
RIA estimates that about 192,000 robots are now at work in U.S. factories.