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North American robotics market continues to break records

Orders and shipments for industrial robots in North America continued their pace set in 2014, with a record first quarter in 2015, according to the Robotics Industries Association (RIA; Ann Arbor, MI). A total of 6,895 robots valued at approximately $435.1 million were ordered from North American companies during the first quarter of 2015, a increase of 16% in units and 29% in dollars over the same period in 2014.

Clare Goldsberry

July 2, 2015

1 Min Read
North American robotics market continues to break records

Robot shipments also set a new record, with 6,997 robots valued at $369.2 million being shipped to North American customers in the opening quarter. This represents exceptional growth of 60% in units and 24% in dollars over the same quarter of 2014. Both orders and shipments in the opening quarter beat the previous record for the first quarter last set in 2013.

"It's exciting to see the dynamic growth that continues in the robotics industry," said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. "With a record-setting performance in 2014 and a great start in 2015, more and more companies are realizing the benefits of automating their operations."

Automotive-related orders continued to drive the market's performance in the first quarter. Robot orders from the automotive components industry increased 66% in units, while orders from automotive OEMs grew 6%. Other notable growth areas included life sciences (10%) and metals (7%). The hottest applications in the first quarter by number of units ordered were material handling (33%), spot welding (26%), and coating and dispensing (9%). The RIA estimates that some 235,000 robots are now at use in U.S. factories, placing the U.S. second only to Japan.

The International Federation of Robotics (IFR; Frankfurt, Germany) released a global report on robotics at its meeting in Chicago in March, noting that 2014 saw 225,000 units sold globally, up 27% from 2013. The drivers were automotive (#1) and electronics (#2).

The rubber and plastics industry has continued increasing the number of robot installations since 2009 from about 5,800 units to 12,200 units in 2014. However, notes the IFR, that is still below a peak of almost 15,000 units in 2006 and 2007 prior to the recession.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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