According to findings from the 2016 World Robotics Report published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), from 2010 to 2015, companies in the United State have installed nearly 135,000 industrial robots, leading to an uptick in jobs.
So who will hire these robots? The automotive industry, apparently. The report also found that during the same six-year period, the number of employees in the automotive sector increased by 230,000, placing the United States’ automotive sector’s robot density second only to Japan.
The report also estimates that robot shipments to Canada, Mexico and the US will grow at an average annual rate of 5 percent to 10 percent.
“The rapid rise of robot use in the United States is impressive,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of Robotic Industries Association. “We’ve seen the industry’s largest user, the automotive industry, accelerate its purchases of robots and at the same time create more jobs in the manufacturing process. We’ve seen strong growth in the use of robots in general industry, as robots further penetrate industries such as life sciences, warehousing and semiconductor and electronics manufacturing. Finally, the use of robots is rising in small- and medium-sized companies who see robotics as a key factor in improving productivity and product quality in order to stay globally competitive. We expect these trends to continue well into the future.
IFR found that at 27,500 units in 2015, the number of newly installed industrial robots has more than tripled since the financial crisis of 2009. The United States automotive industry have installed more than 60,000 industrial robots from 2010 to 2015. Only in China were there more industrial robots installed during the same period at almost 90,000 units. Also the robot density in the United States increased to 1,218 robots per 10,000 employees in the automotive industry in 2015.
But after six years of industrial robot growth in the auto industry, a moderate decrease in the overall sales growth is anticipated for 2016–2017, says the IFR. The retooling necessary for new car models will then drive an increase in demand for industrial robots starting in 2018–2019.
The robotics report notes the electronics industry continues to be the fastest-growing emerging industry for industrial robots in the United States with a 41 percent increase in 2014–2015. An increase is also expected from the metals and machinery industry, the rubber and plastics industry, the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry and the food and beverage industry.