Robotics Segment Hits New Record

Robotic arms and conveyor belt.

According to a recent report from the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), there were a record number of robots shipped to North American companies in the first quarter of 2018. New highs were set in both the number of units shipped and shipment revenue recorded. Although new orders decreased over the same period from a year ago, the first quarter of 2018 was still the second best to begin a year with:

  • 10,730 robots shipped at a value of $507 million.
  • This amount represents growth of 22 percent in robots and three percent in dollars over the same period in 2017.
  • North American customers ordered 8,161 new robots valued at $437 million in the first quarter. 

Growth in non-automotive related industries will be crucial for continued growth, as there were notable increases in:

  • Life sciences (262 percent year-over-year).
  • Plastics/rubber (130%).
  • Food/consumer goods (64%). 

Shipments to the automotive OEM sector were down 43 percent, while units shipped to the automotive component industry increased 42 percent. 

Despite decreasing overall, non-automotive robot orders increased as well with life sciences and plastics/rubber also seeing triple-digit improvements, while the metals sector also saw a slight (three percent) improvement. The decrease in order volume during the first quarter primarily came from a slowdown in automotive OEM sales, contracting 70 percent in units and 53 percent in revenue compared to the first quarter of 2017.

RIA estimates that 250,000 robots are now in use in the United States, the third-highest rate in the world. The U.S. trails Japan and China.


Image Credit: Thomas Soellner/

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