August 06, 2015      

Manufacturing is still a primary user of robotic systems, as demonstrated by strong global sales and new partnerships among industrial automation providers. From testing LED screens to welding, robot makers and integrators are growing, thanks to increasing precision and mobility.

The global industrial automation market is expected to more than double from $22 billion in 2014 to $48.9 billion in 2021, according to a research report from Radiant Insights.

“Industrial robot vendors have discovered that with intelligent use of new technology, they can dominate an aspect of some manufacturing automated process for a particular sector,” said Susan Eustis, principal author of the report. “Industrial robots make the difference between winning competitive advantage or losing it.”

Industrial robot sales are expected to continue growing.

The International Federation of Robotics predicts that industrial robots sales will keep growing. Source: QTE Solutions

In just the first half of 2015, the North American robotics market has grown in terms of sales and revenue. According to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), 14,232 robots worth $840 million were sold in 2015, an increase of 1 percent in units and 7 percent in revenue over the same period last year.

“We’re encouraged by the continued strength in the North American robotics market,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of the 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.”

Spanish mobile systems company to distribute modular robotic arms

Robotnik Automation SSL, which makes mobile and manipulator systems, has agreed to be the European distributor for Smokie Robotics Inc., which makes the modular Open Unit Robot (OUR).

Knoxville, Tenn.-based Smokie Robotics‘ products include lightweight precision robots for tasks such as packaging, product testing, and mobile phone assembly. Its OUR-1 robotic arm can be reconfigured from three to seven degrees of freedom, and it uses the open-source Robot Operating System architecture. Smokie Robotics’ OUR fits on Valencia, Spain-based Robotnik’s mobile platforms.

Ohio welding companies fuse

Lincoln Electric Holdings Inc. has acquired Rimrock Holdings Corp., which makes and integrates industrial automation products.

Cleveland, Ohio-based Lincoln Electric is a multinational manufacturer of welding tools, including robotic welding systems.

Privately held Rimrock Holdings consists of two divisions: Wolf Robotics LLC and Rimrock Corp. Wolf Robotics integrates robotic welding and cutting systems for construction, mining, agriculture, and transportation suppliers.

Rimrock Corp. designs and makes automated spray systems and turnkey robots for the die casting, foundry, and forging markets.

Columbus, Ohio-based Rimrock Holdings is privately held and has annual sales of about $40 million, but terms of its purchase by Lincoln Electronics were not disclosed.

Employee-owned company buys Robotmaster developer

Jabez Technologies, which develops of the Robotmaster software for simplifying complex robotic programming, has been acquired by Hypertherm, an employee-owned manufacturer of plasma, waterjet and laser cutting systems.

Montreal-based Jabez was founded in 1996 as a provider of customer software programming tools for computer numberical control (CNC) machine tools. Since 2001, it has focused on computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software for programming six-axis industrial robots. Robotmaster was brought to market in 2002. The company was the winner of the Game Changer Award for Motion Control at RoboBusiness 2013 for Robotmaster Version 6.

The Robotmaster software is targeted at industrial manufacturing companies of all sizes and in various industries. Jabez has more than 1,000 installations of Robotmaster worldwide.

Hypertherm was founded in 1968 and invented water-injection plasma cutting. It currently has 1,400 employees worldwide, 1,100 of whom are based at the company’s headquarters in Hanover, N.H. In January 2004, Hypertherm announced the transfer of all common stock into an employee stock ownership plan, making the company 100 percent employee-owned.

Hypertherm plans to keep Jabez’s operational staff, leadership structure and distribution channels intact. Financial terms were not disclosed.