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Robotics shipment slides amid economic setbacks

Posted: 28 Aug 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:robotics? design software? automotive industry?

A sudden slowdown in the robotics sector is felt. North American robotics orders decline 23 percent in 1H 08, compared to the same period in 2007, according to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based trade group.

Japan's robot shipments were up 6 percent in Q2, but production levels grew only 0.8 percent in the period, according to the Japan Robot Association.

RIA estimates that some 182,000 robots are now widely used in the United States, placing it second only to Japan. More than one million robots are being used worldwide.

"This year is a very challenging in North America for the robotics industry and other capital equipment industries," said Ake Lindqvist, group VP of ABB Robotics and chairman of RIA's statistics committee, in a statement. "With the economy either in a recession or edging another, manufacturing companies are quite cautious when it comes to investing in automation. This holds true in the automotive industry, the largest customer for robotics," he added.

Reduced shipments
Around 7,100 robots valued at $528.6 million were ordered in 1H timeframe by North American manufacturing companies, according to the RIA.

When orders outside North America are added in, bookings total 7,951 units valued at $575.6 million, a decline of 20 percent in units but an increase of 2 percent in dollars, according to the trade group.

RIA numbers show that orders from automotive manufacturers and their suppliers fell 43 percent in 1H of the year. However, non-automotive orders increased by 23 percent in units and 16 percent in dollars.

"The gains in sales to non-automotive companies are very encouraging in the long term," said Jeffrey Burnstein, executive VP, RIA. "We're seeing strong growth this year from orders in the IC, electronics and photonics industries (up 117 percent), metals (up 74 percent), plastics and rubber (up 71 percent), among others," he added.

Recently, Adept Technology Inc., a provider of robotics, said revenues for Q3 08 increased 28 percent to $16.1 million, compared to $12.6 million for the same period last year, and up 12 percent from $14.4 million in Q2.

Net income increased substantially from the prior year, growing to $1 million, or $0.12 per share, compared to a net loss of $2.4 million, or $0.32 per share for Q3 of fiscal 07, and net income for Q2 08 of $1.5 million, or $0.18 per share, which was favorably influenced by incremental software licensing revenue.

The company expects revenues to increase between $56 million and $60 million, which represents a growth rate from 14 percent to 22 percent from fiscal 2007 levels and compares to previous guidance of revenues from $52 to $56 million. It further expects to record net income from $2.9 million to $3.4 million, up from past guidance net income from $1.8 million to $2.3 million.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times





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