This year, North American robotic companies enjoyed their best opening quarter since 2007, according to recent statistics released by the Robotic Industries Assoc. (RIA), the industry’s trade group. A total of 4,021 robots valued at $263.5 million were ordered by North American manufacturing companies through March, an increase of 31% in units and 27% in dollars over last year
“We’re encouraged by the strong start to 2011 as a follow-up to the unit growth of 39% in 2010,” said Jeff Burnstein, RIA’s president. “However, we are a bit cautious about the next few quarters due to interruptions in the supply chain caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.”
Much of the growth in first-quarter orders came from the automotive industry, where sales jumped 64%, says the RIA. Meanwhile, orders from the metals sector climbed 73%, and life sciences/pharmaceutical/biomedical industries orders rose 61%.
“The automotive industry remains highly cyclical and right now we’re riding the upsurge in automotive investment in robotics and automation,” said John Dulchinos, chair of RIA’s Statistics Committee.
RIA estimates that some 203,000 robots are now working in the U. S., and more than 1 million industrial robots are used worldwide.