Ann, I am surprised by the magnitude of the increase in demand for industrial robots. A 38% increase from 2010 to 2011 for industrial robots, led by automotive and electrical/electronics assembly, is a big number.
Yes, it is a big number! As we mentioned in the story, the IRF data says the global downturn in automotive investment in robotics was during 2006-2009. What we didn't say was the fact that overall industrial robot demand is up everywhere after slumping during the worldwide economic downturn. That's part of the reason for the big jump, according to the IRF. My question to you was requesting a definition of what you meant by "variations in auto production"? Did you mean variations over time in the US, or variations across countries throughout the world, or something else?
I do wonder how much these numbers were affected by the automotive downturn a few years ago and the subsequent upturn now. I wonder how the automotive numbers would compare to say, 2005 or 2006, when auto sales in the U.S. were higher.
Ann, I was referring to variations year to year in automotive production. I tend to agree with Chuck that it would be interesting to see how the downturn in production affected usage of robots. I really don't have a good handle on yearly volumes to make the comparisons myself. Thanks.
Al, thanks for the clarification. Yes, I think it's directly related to an upturn in automotive manufacturing and to the upturn in overall manufacturing, not just automotive, since the downturn. And so does the IRF. I saw similar trends in machine vision a couple of years ago, in both the US and Europe: an upturn directly related to the upturn in manufacturing, at about the same time as this robotics/manufacturing upturn.
I agree, Al. It's definitely encouraging to see second- and third-tier automotive suppliers bouncing back. This is in part why automakers got bailed out a few years ago. The effects of financial failure of a big automaker are far-reaching.
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