IFR Report: US automotive industry installs a new record of ~17,500 industrial robots in 2016

  • April 28, 2017
  • News
IFR Report: US automotive industry installs a new record of ~17,500 industrial robots in 2016
IFR Report: US automotive industry installs a new record of ~17,500 industrial robots in 2016

April 28, 2017 – The US automotive industry has installed a new record of approximately 17,500 industrial robots in 2016. In the last seven years, the operational stock increased by about 52,000 units (2010-2016). These are preliminary results published by the Statistical Department of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). During the same period, the number of jobs in the US automotive sector rose by 260,600 - according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

"The main driving force of this growth is the ongoing trend to automate production in order to strengthen the competitiveness of American industry globally, to keep manufacturing at home, and in some cases bring back manufacturing that had previously been outsourced to other countries," said Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics at the World Robotics IFR CEO Roundtable in Chicago.

Prof. Dr. Howie Choset of the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute (ARM) emphasized the importance of automation with robots for small companies. 98.5 percent of all the manufacturing companies in the US have 500 or fewer employees. "These small companies – this is their phrase not mine – automate or vaporate. They know if they don´t embrace automation they will not be around in the future."

"As a small business we experience every day where our customer base will move something for pennies," said Craig Hertig, Director of Engineering, Engineered Machine Products. "Automation is a very usable tool, it´s very flexible. It gives you the opportunity to be competitive in a global market." As an example of how automation made the difference, Michael P. Jacobs, President of Applied Manufacturing Technologies AMT said: "I was at a friend´s plant just outside Detroit with stamping machines. That particular plant is not very large – he has got to have 30 to 40 robots there in automation. The plant had been shuttered in 2007 and he bought it in 2010. He now has over 200 employees in his plant because of automation. It is very doable by small companies."

"We have about 8 million baby boomers exiting the workforce over the next five to ten years," said Amazon´s Jon Battles. "It turns out the baby boomers are the most industrial trained part of the US workforce. We are heading towards a gap and I hope we all internalize the importance of inspiring this young generation coming up, retraining the people we have, giving them a great vision for careers in the future and following through on that. I am very optimistic about the future and the jobs and the technology. As long as we embrace it and train for it correctly we have an awesome future."

The IFR strongly supports the idea that education and training systems must be adapted to enable current and future workers to reap the benefits of robotics. This task falls to both public and private sectors and requires strong cooperation between the two.

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