Ann Arbor, Mich. — North American robot orders and shipments hit record highs in 2015, according to the Robotic Industries Association.
RIA reported a total of 31,464 robots, valued at $1.8 billion, were ordered from North American companies during 2015, an increase of 14 percent in units and 11 percent in dollars over 2014. Robot shipments also set new records, as 28,049 robots, valued at $1.6 billion, were shipped to North American customers in 2015. Shipments grew 10 percent in units and 9 percent in dollars over the previous records set in 2014.
The automotive industry was the primary growth driver in 2015, with robot orders increasing 19 percent year over year. Non-automotive robot orders grew 5 percent over 2014. The leading non-automotive industry among purchasers for 2015, measured by order growth, was semiconductors and electronics at 35 percent.
Alex Shikany, director of market analysis for RIA, the fastest growing applications for robot orders in North America in 2015 were coating and dispensing at 49 percent, material handling with 24 percent, and spot welding, 22 percent.
The Ann Arbor-based RIA estimates that some 260,000 robots are now at use in North American factories, which is third to Japan and China in robot use.
RIA issued the statistics Feb. 10.
According RIA, the record performance by the robotics market in North America is concurrent with falling unemployment. Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the U.S. unemployment rate reached 4.9 percent, its lowest level since February of 2008. The message from the trade association: Robots help companies be more competitive, and fuel demand for skilled workers.
“Today there are more opportunities than ever before in the robotics industry,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “The continuing growth in robotics is opening many new job opportunities for people who can program, install, run, and maintain robots. In fact, if you look closer at the jobs discussion, automation is helping to save and create jobs. A lot of companies tell us they wouldn't be in business without robotics and related automation.”
RIA and its sister group, AIA — Advancing Vision + Imaging — are preparing for the upcoming International Collaborative Robots Workshop and The Vision Show, scheduled for May 3-5 in Boston.