North American robot and orders rode a strong second quarter — 19.2 percent in unit volume over the same period a year ago — and are up 7.2 percent for the first half of 2019, thanks largely to a robust automotive sector, according to the Robotic Industries Association.
Orders to the plastics and rubber sector, however, declined 8 percent in the first half.
From January through June, North American companies ordered 16,488 robots, valued at $869 million, the trade association said.
Automakers generated an 83 percent increase in units ordered in the first half, compared with the first half of 2018. Other industries that increased orders include semiconductor and electronics (12 percent), life sciences (8 percent) and food and consumer goods (3 percent).
The North American robot market is back on track, after a first quarter where orders declined 3.5 percent from the year-ago first quarter — in what had been a record year in 2018, said Bob Doyle, vice president of the Robotics Industries Association in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Doyle said automotive sales dropped toward the end of 2018 and first part of this year, before rebounding in the second quarter. That hit sales to automakers, who are a key automation market, he said.
RIA is part of the Association for Advancing Automation. President Jeff Burnstein said automation creates factory jobs.
"Robot use continues to grow, which is helping make U.S. companies more competitive and leading to new job growth," Burnstein said. "We are currently experiencing the greatest period of robot expansion in history — over 180,000 robots have been shipped to American companies since 2010, and more than 1.2 million new manufacturing jobs have been created during this time."
The association's next trade show is the Autonomous Mobile Robot Conference, in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 17. The International Robot Safety Conference follows Oct. 15-17 in Indianapolis.