The North American robotics market recorded its best year ever in 2013, with a total of 22,591 robots valued at $1.39 billion shipped. These are among the new statistics reported by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group. This beat the previous record of 20,328 robots valued at $1.29 billion shipped in 2012. These records for robotic shipments represent growth of 11% in units and seven percent in dollars. When sales by North American robot suppliers to companies outside North America are included, the totals are 25,772 robots valued at $1.57 billion.
While robot shipments set record highs in 2013, new orders fell. A total of 21,562 robots valued at $1.34 billion were ordered from North American companies in 2013, representing a decrease of five percent in units and ten percent in dollars from 2012. While the 2013 totals for robot orders represent a contraction from 2012, they remain the second highest annual figures ever recorded for North America.
The top industries in terms of units ordered in 2013 were life sciences (+73%) and food and consumer goods (+67%). “While the highly cyclical purchases by automotive companies contracted in 2013 for robotics, we saw strong growth in non-automotive industries,” said Alex Shikany, director of market analysis for RIA. “The total number of robots ordered for use in non-automotive industries grew 22% over 2012,” he added.
In terms of applications for robot orders, increases were seen in assembly (+61%), material handling (+13%), and coating & dispensing (+5%).
The robotics market in North America ended 2013 on a strong note. New robot orders in the fourth quarter of 2013 totaled 5,831, the third highest quarterly total ever recorded (RIA began recording data in 1984).
RIA estimates that some 228,000 robots are now at use in United States factories, placing the U.S. second only to Japan in robot use. “Many observers believe that only about 10% of the U.S. companies that could benefit from robots have installed any so far,” says Jeff Burnstein, RIA president. “A very large segment of small and medium sized companies who may have the most to gain are just now beginning to seriously investigate robotics.”