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Robot-Order Records in 2016, But Automotive Flat

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
The North American robotics market has set new records thus far in 2016, according to Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.
A reported total of 7,406 robots valued at approximately $402 million were ordered from North American companies during the first quarter of 2016. The number of units ordered in the first three months of 2016 is a new record among opening quarters, growing 7 percent over the same period in 2015, according to RIA, but order revenue decreased by 8 percent in the first quarter. Robot shipments also set a new opening-quarter record, with 7,125 robots valued at $448 million shipped to North American customers. This represents growth of 2 percent in units and 21 percent in dollars over the same quarter of last year.
While it is still the largest industry in terms of volume for robotics, orders to the automotive industry grew only 1 percent in the first quarter of 2016. In terms of applications, the biggest increases were realized in spot welding (31 percent), assembly (15 percent) and material handling (6 percent).
Growth in nonautomotive industries soared in the first quarter of 2016. Robots ordered by the semiconductor and electronics (90 percent), food and consumer goods (82 percent), and plastics and rubber (44 percent) industries all experienced sizable increases over the same period in 2015.
RIA estimates that some 262,000 robots are now at use in North American factories, third to Japan and China in robot use.
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Schuler Acquires Die Manufacturer Aweba

Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Schuler AG has acquired German die builder Aweba, pending a standard antitrust review.
Aweba, founded in 1882, supplies international customers in the automotive and electrical industries, as well as machine and plant manufacturers. Its product portfolio includes forming, cutting, hydroforming and diecasting dies, as well as fixtures and a range of services.
The Aweba takeover is Schuler’s second major acquisition in the past year. In 2015, the German-based forming-equipment company acquired a majority stake in Chinese press manufacturer Yadon.

New Al Coil-Processing Line at SAF

Friday, April 29, 2016
Southern Aluminum Finishing Co. (SAF) recently installed a cut-to-length aluminum coil-processing line at its SAF-West, Redding, CA, plant. A Herr-Voss six-high corrective leveler, the heart of the line, ensures flatness of surface-critical sheet slated for architectural applications.
The new line can handle 0.024 to 0.125-in.-thick aluminum coils to 60 in. wide at speeds of 100 ft./min. Upgraded controls for the leveler and flying shear reportedly enable more precise and reliable production, and an inline slitting head and flying shear minimize processing time.
The leveler’s rollers give SAF the capability to meet surface-critical requirements for painted and anodized aluminum coil processing, not always available from toll-finishing providers specializing in carbon-steel or other non-surface-critical coils, according to SAF officials.
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