More than 14,000. That’s how many robots were ordered from North American robotics companies in the first half of 2014, according to the Robotics Industries Association.
Sales of robots equaled $788 million for the six-month period, a 30% increase in units sold and a 16% increase in revenue over the previous six-month period, the RIA says.
“The only way to make assembly processes cost-effective for North American manufacturing is with robotics and automation.”
The biggest purchaser of robots is the automotive industry, followed by semi-conductors, the life sciences, and food & consumer goods. Roughly 230,000 robots are currently in use in the U.S. alone, placing the U.S. second behind Japan, according to RIA statistics. Robots are helping to make SUVs, ovens, surgical devices and hard drives, among other products.
Increasing global wages and an aging workforce are the reasons behind the growth in robotics. “The only way to make assembly processes cost-effective for North American manufacturing is with robotics and automation,” Chris Blanchette, national account manager Assembly and Aerospace for FANUC America Corporation told the RIA.
Rodney Brooks, founder of Rethink Robotics, which sells a human-like robot named Baxter, claims that robots are not going to take away American jobs, but rather, would help U.S. companies more effectively compete against foreign competition. With a selling price of just $25,000, the ROI on Baxter would not take long to achieve.
The Rodon Group, which makes plastic parts, “has won more contracts than its global competitors” as a result of its in-house robotics, Scott Eckert, CEO of Rethink Robotics, told BetaBoston.
Another benefit to robots is that they are great at multitasking and multi-use tooling, and as a result, can reduce the amount of space needed to complete a task on an assembly line. Because of that, the RIA says we can expect advancements in the future in small parts assembly.