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If the first quarter of 2021 is a sign of things to come, it’s going to be a great year for Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) and Universal Robots (UR). Both companies are owned by Teradyne, which saw its industrial automation group earn $80 million in Q1 revenue. This represents a 33% increase year-over-year and 21% over Q1 2019. Teradyne said Q1 2021 revenue was a record for the “seasonally soft” first quarter of the year.
UR, the leading developer of collaborative robotic arms, earned $66 million in Q1 revenue, which is up 32% year-over-year and 15% over Q1 2019. Of course, UR’s Q1 2020 sales were heavily impacted by the global slowdown in manufacturing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. UR’s overall 2020 sales dipped 12% to $219 million, so it’s off to a great start here in 2021.
According to Teradyne’s earnings call, UR experienced “a notable recovery in China where sales more than doubled in the quarter. Our China performance reflects the compelling value proposition UR offers, even in the face of low-cost competitors.”
Teradyne, which also owns AutoGuide Mobile Robots and Energid, said UR is seeing growth outside of the traditional manufacturing tasks. Specifically, it has sold 500-plus cobots to perform maintenance of high-power transmission lines while energized and robotic inspection of wind turbine blades.
Sanjay Mehta, VP & CFO at Teradyne, said the U.S. and Europe represented over 70% of the industrial automation group’s revenue in the first quarter. He said the group revenue in China more than doubled year-over-year and grew greater than 50% over Q1 2019.
Mehta added that demand for both UR and MiR continues to improve as the global economy recovers and companies work to add production capacity.
“The opportunity of automation is growing,” Mehta said. “Our IA portfolio is solving problems for companies such as improving economics with a typical ROI of approximately one year, addressing labor shortages experienced by manufacturing and warehousing firms and adding supply chain resilience over the long-term.
“From a financial perspective in IA, we continue to lean into engineering, ecosystem and distribution investments to expand the range of applications in IA products – our IA products address and extend our global distribution reach.”
Teradyne on The Robot Report Podcast
Greg Smith, president of Teradyne’s industrial automation group, was a recent guest on The Robot Report Podcast. He took us inside the goals and strategy of building Teradyne’s automation portfolio and what Teradyne is looking for in other industrial automation acquisitions.
MiR up 55%
MiR, a leading developer of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), increased its sales by 55% in Q1 2021 over the same period for both 2020 and 2019. MiR’s sales totaled $14 million, and a large number of those sales were the MiR250, the company’s newest compact AMR. MiR grew 1% with sales of $45 million in 2020.
MiR also said it is starting to see a positive shipment trend towards its higher-payload AMRs – the MiR500 and MiR1000. MiR said its Q1 orders show that industries such as automotive, consumer packaged goods, electronics and pharmaceuticals continue to automate internal transport with AMRs.
MiR said the COVID-19 pandemic also propelled the development and growth of cleaning modules for MiR robots as they are deployed to disinfect offices, hospitals, and other public places to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Teradyne acquired MiR in 2018. To show the growth MiR has experienced since then, MiR was profitable in 2017 with annual revenue of $12 million, more than triple 2016 revenues.
Mehta said Teradyne now expects both UR and MiR to operate above the rule of 40 in 2021 – that is the sum of the operating profit; revenue growth will be over $40 million.
‘Not firing on all cylinders’
While things are looking up for MiR and UR, Teradyne lowered its expectations for AutoGuide Mobile Robots in 2021. Teradyne expects AutoGuide to generate revenue of less than $10 million for the year.
“We will focus on expanding existing customer deployments while we complete a series of engineering projects designed to scale and win new customers in the future,” Mehta said.
AutoGuide president and CEO Rob Sullivan resigned on March 1, but is staying on until June 1 to help the transition. Tim Moriarty, Teradyne’s president of memory products, will step into Sullivan’s role. Teradyne acquired AutoGuide in 2019 for $58 million.
While this is certainly a reset for AutoGuide, Teradyne remains confident in its future.
“But in the light of today, the opportunity looks so large that we think [we’re] better off taking this task than just trying to proliferate more and more accounts,” said Teradyne CEO Mark Jagiela.
Energid wasn’t mentioned in Teradyne’s earnings statement, which likely means it had no material impact on revenue.