Business Essentials for Professionals


Record Number Of Robots Purchased By US Companies In 2018

Record Number Of Robots Purchased By US Companies In 2018
According to the figures from the Association for Advancing Automation, an industry group based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, more robots than ever before were bought and installed by U.S. companies in 2018 as businesses of all sizes could afford them because of cheap prices and greater flexibility of the machines. These robots were used in many industries of the American economy ion additionally the robots being traditionally used in car manufacturing.
The report said that there was an increase of 16 per cent in 2017 in the shipments of robots to the US touching a total of 28,478 units.
Every sector that is tracked by the group purchased or put to use more robots than earlier years except in the automotive industry where there was a drop in the purchases following most of the US car makers completing upgrading their assembly lines for manufacturing of new truck models.
Shipments of robots in some of the other sectors increased significantly. There was a 60 per cent increase in shipments of robots for the food and consumer goods industries compared to the year ago. On the other hand, there was a 50 per cent increase in shipments to the semiconductor and electronics industry and a 13 per cent increase in shipments to metal production companies.
The strategies of companies to reduce labor costs in a tight job market have put pressure on the automotive companies to automate. Automation can be the best way to stay competitive in the wake of rising salaries for US workers for many of the companies that are contemplating bringing back production and thereby work back into the US in the wake of the trade war waged by the Trump administration.
Areas such as warehousing and smaller factories are making use of automation and therefore it is spreading far and wide beyond the conventional use in the auto assembly factories, said Bob Doyle, vice president of the Association for Advancing Automation.
News agency Reuters puts forward the example of one such small firm called Metro Plastics Technologies Inc, which is a family-owned company situated in Noblesville, Indiana, with only 125 workers. The company was founded in the 1970s and is currently engaged in manufacturing mood rings among other things. Despite its small size, the company purchased a robot for the first time – which was an autonomous machine that can carry the finished parts from the manufacturing area to the area where quality inspection is done, last March
“We had three propane, 5,000-pound forklifts,” said Ken Hahn, the company’s president. “We’ve eliminated those.” The cost of the robot that Hahn purchased was about $40,000 which was almost twice the price of the cheapest one that he had considered but was much lower than the machines that were priced at $125,000.
According to the report, 2018 was the first year since 2010 that less than half of the total shipments of robots in the US were accounted for by the auto and auto parts industry. The industry segment accounted for about 49 per cent of all the total robots shipment in contrast to the industry segment accounting for more than 60 per cent of total shipments of robots a year earlier.
“The food industry is really starting to take off” as a market for automation, said Dan Hasley, director of sales and marketing for Kawasaki Robotics (USA) Inc, part of Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries . He added that “food and beverage is one of the segments that really responds to tight labor markets.”

Christopher J. Mitchell

Markets | Companies | M&A | Innovation | People | Management | Lifestyle | World | Misc