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Robotics and electroindustry see solid growth Print E-mail

Ann Arbor, MI and Rosslyn, VA—Both robotics and electroindustry are growing in 2007, according to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) in separate announcements. Robotics companies posted gains of 24% in the first quarter, while current business conditions for the electroindustry improved considerably in June compared to May.

A total of 4,603 robots valued at $274.5 million were sold to North American manufacturing firms through March, RIA says. Including sales from companies outside North America, the totals are 5,027 robots valued at $293.9 million, a gain of 26% in units and 3% in revenue.

“It’s encouraging to see new orders growing again,” said Donald A. Vincent, RIA’s executive vice president. “This is the highest number of robots we’ve seen ordered in a quarter since midway through 2005.”

One of the drivers in the first quarter growth was a pick-up in orders placed by automotive manufacturing companies and their suppliers. Orders to that sector jumped 45% in the first quarter compared to the previous year, while orders to non-automotive companies fell 9%. Closely tied to automotive, spot welding also saw growth, as did arc welding, coating/dispensing, and material handling applications.

Other sectors that saw growth include life sciences/pharmaceutical/biomedical (up 48%) and plastics and rubber (up 9%). RIA estimates that about 168,000 robots are now in use at U.S. factories, placing the United States second only to Japan in overall robot use.

This year’s International Robots & Vision Show in Rosemont, IL, provided opportunities for potential robot customers in all industries to learn about robotics and related technologies.

Control Engineering covered other robots & vision developments.

The NEMA Electroindustry Business Confidence Index (EBCI) improved from 38.6 in May to 50.0 in June, and it sits astride the threshold indicating that conditions are favorable to growth. June’s score just touches the growth line, but because of the sharp rebound from May’s reading, it suggests that May could have been an aberration, NEMA says.

Following the largely positive pattern, EBCI future conditions index for North America remained at or above 50 for the fifth consecutive month with June’s score of 60.4, NEMA says. The future conditions index measures the respondents’ expectations regarding business conditions six months from now. It is clear that panel members are expecting the electroindustry in North America to grow in the coming months, the organization’s announcement says.

The EBCI gauges the business confidence of the electroindustry in Asia, Europe, North America, and Latin America, and is based on the results of a monthly survey of senior managers at NEMA member companies which represent more than 80% of the electroindustry.

—Edited by Lisa Sutor, Control Engineering Weekly News

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