2018 Wisconsin Manufacturing Industry Survey: Robotics in Manufacturing

July 30, 2018

Robotics Industries Association (RIA), the robotics industry trade group, reported in February 2018 that the robotics industry in North America set new growth records in 2017. 

Robot shipments in 2017 surpassed all previous records with shipments of approximately 34,000 units representing $1.9 billion in total sales. In comparison, in 2015, robot shipments totaled in excess of 28,000 units valued at $1.6 billion. Non-automotive shipments created this growth as automotive shipments were relatively flat. Industries contributing to this growth were plastics and rubber, metals, and food and consumer goods.

This growth continued in 2018 with RIA reporting in May 2018 that the first quarter of 2018 experienced its strongest first quarter on record with $507 million in shipments. Again, growth in the non-automotive sector fueled this increase as shipments to the automotive sector remained flat.

RIA estimates that some 250,000 robots are now used in North American factories, third to Japan and China. The continuing growth in robotics opens up new job opportunities for workers who can program, install, run and maintain robots.

While robotics have been widely used in the automotive industry, they continue to gain popularity in all sectors of manufacturing. As our survey shows, robotic welding, machine tending, machining, assembly and performing tasks requiring exacting specifications are the most popular uses of robotics. Their use continues to grow in material handling and performance of dangerous tasks. This is all consistent with industry trends.

This report is a summary of how Wisconsin mid-size manufacturing companies are using these advanced technologies.



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