North American companies ordered nearly 24,000 robotic units, valued at $1.3 billion, through the third quarter of this year, a 5.2% increase over the year-ago period, according to data from the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) released this week.
Orders in the third quarter only were up just 1% compared to 2018, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based trade association said. But officials said the year-to-date results reflect solid improvement after the sector saw a roughly 15% decline in robotic orders last year.
"We're seeing improvement in the robotics market," RIA President Jeff Burnstein said. "Last year saw a dip in orders of around 15%, so it's encouraging to see a recovery through the third quarter. We hope to end the year strong and see growth in 2020 as well."
Auto makers are driving the increase, posting a 47% rise in robotics orders through September. Rubber and plastics industries posted a 15% increase, and food and consumer industries have ordered 4% more robots so far this year. Burnstein also said that orders from non-automotive customers remain near record numbers, "a healthy sign for the long-term growth of the robotics industry."