North American Robotics Market Posts Strongest First Quarter Ever

ANN ARBOR — North American robotics companies posted the strongest ever first-quarter results, according to the Robotic Industries Association, the industry’s Ann Abor-based trade group. Both robot orders and shipments achieved record levels.

An all-time high total of 9,773 robots valued at approximately $516 million were ordered from North American robotics companies during the quarter. This represents growth of 32 percent in units over the same period in 2016, which held the previous record. Order revenue grew 28 percent over the first quarter of last year.

Robot shipments also reached new heights, with 8,824 robots valued at $494 million shipped to North American customers in the opening quarter of the year. This represents growth of 24 percent in units and 5 percent in dollars over the same period in 2016.

“The automation industry continues to grow robustly as companies invest to increase productivity and boost competitiveness while also providing opportunities for workers,” said RIA President Jeff Burnstein.

Growth in automotive related industries soared in the first quarter of 2017. Robots ordered by automotive suppliers were up 53 percent while orders from the automakers increased 32 percent. Another good sign for the future of robotics was the continued growth in non-automotive industries like metals (54 percent), semiconductors and electronics (22 percent), and food and consumer goods (15 percent).

The biggest increases were in arc welding (102 percent), coating and dispensing (64 percent), and spot welding (36 percent) applications. RIA estimates that 250,000 robots are now in use in the United States, the third highest in the world behind Japan and China.

RIA and its parent group, the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), see the impact of the growth in demand for robotics and related automation at industry events such as Automate 2017, recently held in Chicago April 3-6. This year’s show featured more than 400 exhibitors displaying technologies and services, including global suppliers of robotics, motion control, motors, vision systems, metrology, software and system integration services for enterprises large and small. More than 20,000 people attended Automate 2017, including more than 1,000 participants in the 120+ Automate conference sessions held at the event.

“All of our statistics increased significantly from the last Automate show in 2015,” Burnstein said. “Total number of show attendees jumped 37 percent and conference participation grew by over 90 percent compared to 2015.”

RIA and its sister group, AIA – Advancing Vision + Imaging, are teaming up to bring more content on robot and machine vision trends in 2017. The Collaborative Robots & Advanced Vision Conference will take place Nov. 15-16 in San Jose, Calif., and will feature presentations from market leaders in robotics, vision, and imaging. More information will be available in the coming weeks on the RIA ( and AIA ( websites.

Founded in 1974, RIA is a not-for-profit trade association driving innovation, growth, and safety in manufacturing and service industries through education, promotion, and advancement of robotics, related automation technologies, and companies delivering integrated solutions. RIA represents some 450 robot manufacturers, system integrators, component suppliers, end users, consulting firms, research groups, and educational institutions.

RIA and AIA are part of A3, the Association for Advancing Automation, which also includes the Motion Control & Motor Association. More at

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