Robotics companies in North America posted their strongest ever first-quarter results, according to data from the Robotics Industries Association (RIA), a trade group which serves the robotics industry.
$516 million worth of robots – or 9,773 total units – were ordered from North American companies during the first quarter of 2017. This marks a 32% increase in units sold and a 28% increase in revenue over the same period in 2016, which previously held this record.
At the same time, robot shipment to North American customers also reached record levels. 8,824 robots valued at $494 million were delivered to customers in this year’s first quarter, representing a growth of 24% in units and 5% in dollars over the same period in 2016.
“The automation industry continues to grow robustly as companies invest to increase productivity and boost competitiveness while also providing opportunities for workers,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of RIA.
Earlier this year, energy giant Tesla took delivery of a large shipment of advanced robots meant to play an important part in the production process of the upcoming Model 3. You can read more about that here.
“We are excited to hear about the new jobs being created and how companies such as Amazon, GM, and others are training and retraining their workforce to enable them to embrace these higher skilled jobs,” Burnstein added.
Indeed, a significant portion of the robotics increase can be attributed to a growth in automotive related industries. Robots ordered by automotive component suppliers were up 53% while orders by automotive OEMs increased 32%.
And according to RIA, robotics used also continued to grow in non-automotive industries like metals (54%), semiconductors/electronics (22%), and food & consumer goods (15%). Interestingly, the biggest increases were in arc welding (102%), coating & dispensing (64%), and spot welding (36%) applications.
RIA estimates that 250,000 robots are now in use in the United States, the third highest in the world behind Japan and China.