North American robotics companies posted the strongest ever first-quarter results, according to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group. Both robot orders and shipments achieved record levels.
An all-time high total of 9,773 robots valued at approximately $516 million were ordered from North American robotics companies during the first quarter of 2017. This represents growth of 32 percent in units over the same period in 2016, which held the previous record. Order revenue grew 28 percent over the first quarter of last year. Robot shipments also reached new heights, with 8,824 robots valued at $494 million shipped to North American customers in the opening quarter of the year. This represents growth of 24 percent in units and five percent in dollars over the same period in 2016.
“The automation industry continues to grow robustly as companies invest to increase productivity and boost competitiveness while also providing opportunities for workers,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “We are excited to hear about the new jobs being created and how companies such as Amazon, GM, and others are training and retraining their workforce to enable them to embrace these higher skilled jobs.”
Growth in automotive related industries soared in the first quarter of 2017. Robots ordered by automotive component suppliers were up 53 percent while orders by automotive OEMs increased 32 percent. Another good sign for the future of robotics was the continued growth in non-automotive industries like metals (54 percent), semiconductors/electronics (22 percent), and food & consumer goods (15 percent).
The biggest increases were in arc welding (102 percent), coating & dispensing (64 percent), and spot welding (36 percent) applications. RIA estimates that 250,000 robots are now in use in the United States, the third highest in the world behind Japan and China.