Robot Orders Down 19 percent in North America in First Nine Months of 2008

Dec. 22, 2008

North American based robot companies saw new orders from North American manufacturing companies decline 19 percent through September 2008 compared to the same period in 2007, according to a report released by the Robotics Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.
A total of 10,279 robots valued at $743.4 million were ordered by North American manufacturing companies through September. When orders to companies outside North America are included, the totals are 11,503 robots valued at $811.9 million, a decline of 17 percent in units and 10 percent in dollars over the same period in 2007.
“Given the financial crisis in North America and the especially hard-hit automotive sector, we’re not surprised by the overall decline,” Jeffrey A. Burnstein, RIA’s Executive Vice President, said. “Orders from North American auto manufacturers and suppliers, sectors which annually account for more than half the annual robot orders, fell 36 percent in units and 26 percent in dollars through September. We don’t expect to see automotive orders recover anytime soon.”
Tammy Mulcahy of ABB Robotics, Chair of RIA’s Statistics Committee, notes that the RIA is encouraged by the year-to-date increase in non-automotive orders, which increased 15 percent in units and 10 percent in dollars in the first nine months of the year.
“Strong growth was seen in orders to the semiconductor, electronics, and photonics industries – partly driven by solar – as well as plastics rubber, life sciences, pharmaceutical, biomedical and medical device industries,” Mulcahy adds. “But, non-automotive markets declined in the third quarter, so we’ll be watching fourth quarter results very closely.”