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Robot sector hit by slowdown, says RIA

Posted: 28 Aug 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:robotics  North America  automotive manufacturers  Japan 

According to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), North American robotics orders fell 23 per cent in the first half of 2008, compared with the same period in 2007.

Japan's robot shipments were up 6 per cent in the second quarter, but production levels grew only 0.8 per cent in the period, according to the Japan Robot Association.

RIA estimates that some 182,000 robots are now used in the United States, placing it second only to Japan. More than 10 lakh (one million) robots are being used worldwide.

''2008 is a very challenging year in North America for the robotics industry and other capital equipment industries,'' said Ake Lindqvist, group vice president of ABB Robotics and chairman of RIA's statistics committee, in a statement. ''With the economy either in a recession or on the edge of one, manufacturing companies are being quite cautious when it comes to investing in automation. This is especially true in the automotive industry, the largest customer for robotics.''

A total of 7,100 robots valued at Rs.2,265.50 crore ($528.6 million) were ordered in the January-June timeframe by North American manufacturing companies, according to the RIA.

When orders outside North America are added in, bookings total 7,951 units valued at Rs.2,466.93 crore ($575.6 million), a decline of 20 per cent in units but an increase of 2 per cent in dollars, according to the trade group.

RIA numbers show that orders from automotive manufacturers and their suppliers fell 43 per cent in the first half of the year. However, non-automotive orders increased by 23 per cent in units and 16 per cent in dollars.

''The gains in sales to non-automotive companies are very encouraging for the long term,'' said Jeffrey Burnstein, RIA's executive VP. ''We're seeing strong growth this year in orders from the semiconductor/electronics/photonics industry (up 117 per cent), metals (up 74 per cent), plastics and rubber (up 71 per cent), among others,'' he said.

Recently, Adept Technology Inc., a provider of robotics, said revenues for Q3 fiscal 08 increased 28 per cent to Rs.69.00 crore ($16.1 million), compared to Rs.54.00 crore ($12.6 million) for the same period last year, and up 12 per cent from Rs.61.72 crore ($14.4 million) in the second quarter.

Net income increased substantially from the prior year, growing to Rs.4.29 crore ($1.0 million), or Rs.5.14 ($0.12) per share, compared to a net loss of Rs.10.29 crore ($2.4 million), or Rs.13.71 ($0.32) per share for Q3 of fiscal 07, and net income for Q2 08 of Rs.6.43 crore ($1.5 million), or Rs.7.71 ($0.18) per share, which was favourably impacted by incremental software licensing revenue.

The company expects revenues to increase between Rs.240.01 crore and Rs.257.15 crore ($56 million and $60 million), which represents growth of 14 per cent to 22 per cent from fiscal 2007 levels and which compares to previous guidance of revenues from Rs.222.86 crore to Rs.240.01 crore ($52 to $56 million). The company further expects to record net income of Rs.12.43 crore ($2.9 million) to Rs.14.57 crore ($3.4 million), up from previous guidance of net income from Rs.7.71 crore ($1.8 million) to Rs.9.86 crore ($2.3 million).

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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