North American companies placed fewer orders for industrial robots in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period a year ago, the Robotics Industries Association (RIA) said today.
Companies ordered 7,876 robots valued at $423 million in the first three months of the year, down 3.5 percent in units and 3.2 percent in dollars compared to the first quarter of 2018, RIA said. The decline was driven by a drop in orders from automotive component suppliers (-16 percent) as well as the plastics and rubber (-16 percent), electronics (-17 percent), and metals (-17 percent) industries, RIA also said.
The association pointed to some bright spots during the quarter as well, noting that orders from automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were up 41 percent, as were orders from the food and consumer goods industries (up 32 percent). Total orders were up sequentially, with units up nearly 16 percent and revenue up nearly 9 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2018.
RIA said robot shipments normalized during the month following a record 2018. In the first quarter, 7,577 robots—valued at $452 million—were shipped, down 29 percent in units and nearly 11 percent in dollars compared to the year-ago period.
"We are coming off a record year in 2018, so slight declines aren't unexpected, and long-term signs remain very healthy," RIA President Jeff Burnstein said in a statement announcing the quarterly results.