Industrial robots are spreading out from automotive factories into a host of other industries, ranging from food production to electronics manufacturing.
Last year, shipments of industrial robots to companies in North America rose 7% to a record 35,880 units, according to the Robotic Industries Association. In a major shift, the increase was fueled by nonautomotive companies, it said.
Robot shipments for food and consumer goods companies jumped 48% last year. Other industries showing notable growth include plastics and rubber, up 37%; life sciences, up 31%; and electronics, up 22%.
Meanwhile, shipments of robots to automakers fell 12% as those companies curtailed capital equipment spending. The auto sector still accounted for 53% of total shipments. But that's its lowest percentage share since 2010, the trade group said.
Industrial Robots: Healthy Sales Growth
The generally upward trend is positive for major robot vendors, including the "big four" of industrial automation: ABB (ABB), Fanuc, Kuka and Yaskawa Motoman. Others include Denso, Kawasaki, Lincoln Electric (LECO) and Teradyne (TER).
"The health of the industrial ...