North American robotics market shrank 30% in 2001

Ann Arbor, Mich. - The North American robotics market decreased by 30% in 2001, apparently suffering the same fate as other U.S. capital equipment markets affected by the nation's lingering recession.


Ann Arbor, Mich. - The North American robotics market decreased by 30% in 2001, apparently suffering the same fate as other U.S. capital equipment markets affected by the nation's lingering recession.

Year-end statistics compiled and released by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) on Feb. 13 showed that North American customers ordered a total of 8,964 robots worth $679.9 million in 2001. This was a decrease of 30% in units and 35% in dollar value below 2000. An additional 779 robots valued at $51.9 million were ordered by overseas customers, which gave North American robotics manufacturers total sales of 9,743 robots valued at $731.8 million in 2001, which resulted in a 32% decline in units and 34% in revenue below the year before.

"As expected, 2001 was a very difficult year for robotics companies," says Donald Vincent, RIA's executive vp. "The recession, the tragic events of Sept. 11, and the continued slowdown in capital equipment purchases combined to make 2001 the weakest year for robot sales since 1995."

Though hesitant to predict the robotics sector's recovery, Mr. Vincent states there was still some good news in 4Q01. "New orders jumped 20% in last year's fourth quarter over the previous quarter. This was definitely a positive sign, although it's much too early to say whether this indicates a turnaround for the robotics industry," he says.

In addition, while all major robotic application areas suffered steep declines in 2001, Mr. Vincent adds that orders for material handling robots, which handle payloads grater than 10 pounds, and for arc welding robots both decreased less than the overall industry average. "These particular applications could be poised for strong growth once the market turn upward," he says.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor

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