The North American robot market is red hot, according to a report of 2014 statistics from the Robotic Industries Association.
The strong automotive industry was the main driver of growth, as robot orders skyrocketed 45 percent from 2013 levels. But other sectors also saw double-digit growth rates — including the plastics industry, as it prepares for the largest U.S. trade show, NPE 2015, March 23-27 in Orlando, Fla.
Overall, RAI said, a record 27,685 robots, valued at $1.6 billion, were ordered from North American companies during 2014, an increase of 28 percent measured in units and 19 percent in dollars over 2013. Shipments also set a new record, as 25,425 robots valued at $1.5 billion were shipped to customers in North America, up 13 percent in units and 6 percent in dollars over 2013 — which had been the previous record year.
Non-automotive industries also invested in plenty of robots in 2014. Orders by plastics and rubber product manufacturers jumped 25 percent, year over year. Semiconductor and electronics reported 21 percent growth. Metals increased 16 percent.
“This is an extremely exciting time to be involved in the robotics industry,” said RIA President Jeff Burnstein. “Record sales performance, groundbreaking innovation and increasing consumer interest all make the robotics industry so dynamic.”
The Robotic Industries Association is based in Ann Arbor, Mich.
According to Alex Shikany, RIA's director of market analysis, the fastest growing orders in North America in 2014 where arc welding (up 58 percent), spot welding (up 57 percent) assembly (up 16 percent) and material handling (up 11 percent).
RIA officials estimate about 230,000 robots are now in use in U.S. factories. That places the United States second only to Japan in the use of robots.