Non-auto robotics markets fare better; U.S. 2nd only to Japan

Cyclical downturn in robot sales to the North American automotive industry helped reduce first-half 2006 new orders received by North American-based robotics companies by 38%, according to the Robotic Industries Association. RIA also estimates that some 162,000 robots are installed in U.S. factories, placing the U.

09/01/2006


Cyclical downturn in robot sales to the North American automotive industry helped reduce first-half 2006 new orders received by North American-based robotics companies by 38%, according to the Robotic Industries Association. RIA also estimates that some 162,000 robots are installed in U.S. factories, placing the U.S. second only to Japan in robot use.

While new orders were down 52% in the automotive industry, sales to non-automotive companies fell only 5%, and showed increases in food and consumer goods, life sciences/pharmaceutical/biomedical, and general industry, RIA says. Non-automotive robot sales accounted for 45% of the new orders through June, up from 29% midway through 2005.

Donald A. Vincent, executive vice president of RIA, said the sharp decline in overall robot orders may continue for a while as the automotive industry digests large purchases made in the last few years. “In addition, continued economic difficulties in the automotive industry are likely to slow their investments in new technologies, not just robotics,” he explained.

Vincent said that most application areas showed declines through June, but 33% growth was recorded in new orders for assembly robots as well as for material-removal robots; more evidence of saturation into new areas for robotics since assembly robots are rarely used for automotive applications.

Total sales for North American robot suppliers totaled 7,141 robots valued at $501.4 million in 2006 through June, representing a decline of 37% in units and 26% in revenue. www.roboticsonline.com





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