How to Shore Up Business in 2009


By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association

A select group of people will soon see a market assessment that examines the machine vision sector through the prism of recent economic indicators. It will be presented by Paul Kellett, Director, Market Analysis for the Automated Imaging Association. He foresees a recovery that lags the general economy, but eventually returns to a prosperous growth trend. His entire presentation will be during the AIA Business Conference, February 4-6, 2009, in San Diego, California.

Paul is an interesting person to talk to. He has the training of an economist and seasoning from the legal field. He has researched the automation sector for several years and is well informed about market dynamics from his work the three associations affiliated with Automation Technologies Council (RIA, AIA and MCA).

One of the important points made by Paul is that there will be a recovery. He reminds us there have been nine major economic crises since World War II. I would add there have been nine recoveries.

Many will tell you the economy gets stronger and bigger over time. Paul provides far more detail and support for his own predictions but he does have a positive outlook. However, he is practical and has a conservative outlook for 2009.

Are companies in the robotics industry recession proof? Some might be tempted to think so after weathering the storm pretty well in 2008. However, it will be nearly impossible to escape the impact of a global recession. What you do during the next few months is crucial to survival, and I was inspired by Paul to review how important the Association can be to its members during this time.

Now is the time to amplify your corporate image through public relations, marketing, training and networking. This is a great way to shore up business, and Paul, our in-house economist, feels this way very strongly.

My own training is in public relations and marketing, and though it goes back many years, there is a fundamental rule about surviving down economies. When times are bad, you must do more than ever to tell your story and position your company for renewed demand. Those who stay strong in the public conscience will flourish and those who don’t will see their business go elsewhere.

Trade associations were developed especially to give a voice to companies that need help telling their story. Membership can be publicized and used to establish credentials. A good trade association gives its members a number of outlets to help them get their story told.

Robotic Industries Association has a new Robotics Industry Directory for 2009 and that is a very tangible way to help members connect with customers. It has weight, you can turn the pages and it is “on” the moment you open it. Many of the ads are free. Companies publish their logos in it as a way to improve brand recognition and share of mind.

Hundreds of Directories are requested each month by people who visit Robotics Online. According to Google Analytics, more than 20,000 unique visitors come to RIA’s website each month. Page views are a mark of interest for a website, and more than 100,000 page views a month shows Robotics Online has a vibrant following. Many interact with RIA members through a public forum called “Ask the Experts.”

As trade associations go, RIA is unique. It is the only one in North America dedicated exclusively to robotics. It is one of a very few trade groups with membership levels for users as well as suppliers. It is the voice of suppliers, integrators, researchers, educators, consultants and users. RIA is the only source of statistics specific to robot orders and shipments in North America. On the factory floor, robot safety is achieved through compliance with the RIA/ANSI R15.06 National Robot Safety Standard that is on the threshold of a completely new release.

Companies that want to make a name for themselves in the robotics industry start with RIA. They have a place in print and online to ensure customers understand how dedicated they are to the technology. Many times these companies provide volunteers on committees and on the RIA Board to ensure the Association continues to reflect industry needs and concerns. Their companies are seen at regional and national events, from robot safety seminars to the International Robots, Vision & Motion Control Show and Conference.

Get to know these special companies. RIA even publishes a Who’s Who list of Platinum Suppliers and Integrators which for 2009 will first be seen in Assembly magazine this January. Call RIA headquarters to learn more (734/994-6088), or go to Robotics Online and see which companies are truly influential in the robotics sector. Always select an RIA member – it’s just good business.

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