North American robot orders increase 11% during 1-3Q02

Ann Arbor, MI—North American robot orders increased 11% during the first nine months of 2002, according to new data from the Robotic Industries Association (RIA).


Ann Arbor, MI— North American robot orders increased 11% during the first nine months of 2002, according to new data from the Robotic Industries Association

Through September 2002, RIA found that 7,511 robots valued at $596.4 million were ordered by North American customers, an increase of 11% in units and 15% in revenue compared to the same nine-month period in 2001. Combined with sales to buyers outside North America, these North American robot suppliers sold a total of 7,766 robots valued at $618.6 million in the first nine months of 2002, which was a 5% gain in units and an 11% increase in revenue.

The biggest gains occurred in 3Q02, when orders by North American companies jumped 41% in units and 47% in dollars. Total worldwide orders to North America-based robot suppliers increased 32% in units and 45% in dollars during this quarter.

RIA officials believe that one key reason for these strong third quarter gains is the post-Sept 11 downturn that occurred last year. They also noted that North American orders in 3Q02 grew 6% in units over 2Q02, which represents a healthy sequential increase in a quarter that's usually weaker than its predecessor.

'We're encouraged by the double-digit increase in North American orders through September and by the sequential increase in the third quarter,' says Donald Vincent, RIA's executive vp. 'However, we recognize that the robotics industry, like many manufacturing industries, continues to suffer from the slowdown in capital equipment spending. We are recovering slowly, but have a long way to go before we can say the industry has returned to full health.'

Mr. Vincent also noted that the biggest gains in 2002 have been in orders for arc welding, dispensing/coating, spot welding, and higher payload material handling and assembly robots. The only major application areas in which orders declined during the first nine months of 2002 were lower payload assembly and material handling applications, material removal, and inspection, which as a group, account for only 15% of the robotics market.

RIA estimates that some 124,000 robots are now at use in United States factories, placing the U.S. second only to Japan in robot use. RIA collects and reports statistics each quarter based on actual totals provided by member companies, which RIA estimates represents over 90% of the North American robotics market.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Gary A. Mintchell, senior editor

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