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The North American robotics market is off to its fastest start ever in 2015, according to new statistics released from Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

A record 14,232 robots, valued at $840 million were ordered from North American robotics companies in the first half of 2015, an increase of one percent in units and seven percent in revenue over the same period in 2014, which held the previous record.

“We’re encouraged by the continued strength in the North American robotics market,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “The interest in robotics remains strong not just in North America, but all over the world, as companies recognize that robots can help them improve productivity, product quality, and flexibility.”

In the first half of 2015, sales of all types of robots continued to grow in a number of key industrial segments. Semiconductors (30%), automotive components (23%), and life sciences (eight percent) increased strongly over the first half of last year. In contrast, orders to automotive OEMs cooled in the first six months, down 18% from record high performance in the first half of 2014.

The market’s best start to the year has also been realized in key robot application segments like coating/dispensing and material handling. “Robots ordered for use in coating/dispensing and material handling applications grew 36% and 27% respectively through June,” said Alex Shikany, RIA’s Director of Market Analysis. “Material handling is the largest category we measure and touches many important industries to the robotics market. It’s encouraging to see such strong growth in this segment.” Shikany added that the notable increase in material handling applications can be traced, to some degree, to the growth in non-automotive industries such as semiconductors/electronics, life sciences, and others. RIA estimates that some 232,000 robots are now at use in United States factories, placing the US second only to Japan in robot use.

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