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Robot Orders Down Sharply in First Half of 2009

Robotic Industries Association

Ann Arbor, Michigan – North American based robotics companies saw orders for new robots decline 36% in units and 47% in dollars through the first half of 2009, according to Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

The second quarter alone saw declines of 43% in units and 51% in dollars over the same period in 2008.  The quarter was also down 29% in units and 26% in dollars from the first quarter of 2009.

Weakness in orders received from the automotive industry OEMs and suppliers is the major factor in the decline, said Jeff Burnstein, RIA’s President.

“The automotive industry, the largest customer for robots in North America, is in the midst of a major upheaval.  That’s one of the reasons we knew 2009 would be a very difficult year for the robotics industry, so there are no surprises in the first half results. 

“Robotics companies across the globe are experiencing similar declines as they grapple with the impacts of the economic recession that has put the brakes on capital equipment expenditures in many industries, not just automotive,” Burnstein explained.

“While the first half numbers do have some bright spots, such as a 34% increase in orders from the Life Sciences/Pharmaceutical/Biomedical industries and a 7% increase in orders from the food & consumer goods sector, the reality is that we’re in the midst of a sharp decline that will likely last into 2010.  However, recent economic data indicates that the worst of the recession may be behind us, which would be welcome news for everyone in our industry,” said Tammy Mulcahy of ABB Robotics, Chair of RIA’s Statistics Committee.

RIA estimates that more than 190,000 robots are now being used in the United States, placing the United States second only to Japan in overall robot use.  It’s estimated that more than one million robots are being used worldwide, with countries such as China, Korea and India rapidly expanding their investments in robotics.

Founded in1974, RIA represents more than 250 North American companies including leading robot manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, research groups and consulting firms.  RIA’s quarterly statistics report is based on data supplied by member companies representing an estimated 90% of the North American market.

For more information about RIA and the robotics industry, visit www.robotics.org or contact RIA Headquarters at 734/994-6088.

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