The Robotic Industries Association (RIA), part of the Association for Advancing Automation, recently reported that North American robot sales increased 5.2% through the third quarter, compared to 2018 results. So far in 2019, the RIA said North American companies have ordered 23,894 robots valued at $1.3 billion.
Looking at third quarter results only, there were 7,446 robots, valued at $438 million, ordered by North American companies. Both robot sales and revenue are up 1% compared to 2018.
The largest driver of the year-to-date growth in units ordered was an increase in orders from automotive OEMs at 47%, followed by plastics and rubber at 15%, and food and consumer goods at 4%.
“We’re seeing improvement in the robotics market,” said Jeff Burnstein, RIA President. “Last year saw a dip in orders of around 15%, so it’s encouraging to see a recovery through the third quarter. We hope to end the year strong and see growth in 2020 as well.”
Burnstein also said he continues to see strong interest in robotics from companies who have never invested in robots before. He also indicated that orders from non-automotive customers remain near record numbers, a healthy sign for the long-term growth of the robotics industry.
The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) reported in September that 422,000 industrial robots were shipped globally in 2018, an increase of 6% compared to 2017. However, the IFR said that it expects shipments to decline in 2019 before bouncing back with 12% growth per year between 2020 and 2022.
In the service robots category, the IFR reported a 32% increase in sales value of $9.2 billion for 2018. In the report, the IFR expected 2019 to remain flat in terms of installations, but with increases expected in 2020, 2021, and 2022.
The IFR’s industrial robotics numbers for the first time include sales of collaborative robots. It said that in 2018, less than 14,000 out of the 422,000 industrial robots installed were cobots – a share of 3.24%. Roughly 11,100 cobots were installed in 2017.