American robot orders dip in first quarter

ANN ARBOR—Robot orders in North America declined in the first quarter compared to a year earlier, according to statistics released by the Ann Arbor-based Robotic Industries Association (RIA), an organization of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3).

North American companies ordered a total of 7,876 robots valued at $423 million during the three months, a decline of 3.5 percent in units and 3.2 percent in dollars compared to the first quarter of 2018.

The decline was driven by a decrease in orders from automotive suppliers and the plastics and rubber industry, where orders fell 16 percent in both sectors, and the electronics and metals sectors, where orders fell 17 percent. Orders from automotive manufacturers (OEMs) were up 41 percent, however, while orders in the food and consumer goods industry rose 32 percent. Another bright spot was the solid increase in orders over the fourth quarter of 2018, with units up nearly 16 percent and revenue up nearly 9 percent.

In the first quarter of 2019, 7,577 robots, valued at $452 million, were shipped, down 29 percent in units and nearly 11 percent in dollars from the same period last year.

“We are coming off a record year in 2018 so slight declines aren’t unexpected, and long-term signs remain very healthy,” said Jeff Burnstein, RIA president. Burnstein cited the strong growth of the recent Automate 2019 show in Chicago in April, where attendance was up 25 percent compared to the 2017 show.

“Many of the Automate show attendees are just beginning to explore how robotics and automation can help their companies become stronger global competitors,” Burnstein added. “Their expected purchases over the next year or so should help the industry grow going forward.”

Founded in 1974, RIA is a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to improving the regional, national and global competitiveness of the North American manufacturing and service sectors through promotion and enhancement of robotics and related automation. RIA represents more than 550 robot manufacturers, system integrators, component suppliers, end users, consulting firms, research groups, and educational institutions. For more details on RIA, visit www.robotics.org or call (734) 994-6088.

The Association for Advancing Automation is the global advocate for the benefits of automating. A3 promotes automation technologies and ideas that transform the way business is done. A3 is the umbrella group for Robotic Industries Association (RIA), AIA – Advancing Vision + Imaging, Motion Control & Motor Association (MCMA) and A3 Mexico. RIA, AIA, MCMA and A3 Mexico combined represent over 1,200 automation manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, research groups and consulting firms from throughout the world that drive automation forward. For more information, visit: A3RIAAIAMCMAA3 Mexico.

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