Record Growth for North American Robotics Market

ANN ARBOR — The Association for Advancing Automation, the trade association for robotics and related industries, reported that the North American robotics industry had its best opening six months ever in 2017.

The organization said records were set in all four statistical categories — order units, order revenue, shipment units, and shipment revenue.

In total, 19,331 robots valued at $1.031 billion were sold in North America during the first half of 2017, which is the highest level ever recorded to begin a year. These figures represent growth of 33 percent in units and 26 percent in dollars over 2016.

Automotive related orders grew substantially in that time, increasing 39 percent in units and 37 percent in dollars, while non-automotive orders also grew 21 percent in units and 10 percent in dollars over the first half of 2016.

In the motion control and motors industry, orders were $1.622 billion, up 14 percent over the first six months of 2016. Shipments totaled $1.757 billion, up 10 percent over the first half of 2016. The fastest growing categories in that timeframe, in terms of shipments, were motion controllers (up 21 percent to $97 million), sensors and feedback devices (up 20 percent to $76 million), actuators and mechanical systems (up 17 percent to $318 million), and AC drives (up 17 percent to $199 million).

In 2017, the machine vision market in North America also posted its best first half performance compared to any other year. A total of $1.241 billion was sold in the first six months of the year, with an increase of 11 percent over the same period in 2016. Machine vision component markets were up 11 percent in total to $177 million and systems increased 10 percent to $1.058 billion. Some notable growth rates were lighting (up 20 percent to $35 million), smart cameras (up 16 percent to $183 million), and optics (up 16 percent to $20 million).

The organization said it expects sales of software to trend up, cameras, lighting, and imaging boards to be flat, and optics to trend down over the next six months. Additionally, expectations are for application specific machine vision systems to increase and smart cameras to remain flat in the next two quarters.

A3 is comprised of three associations: the Robotic Industries Association, the Advancing Vision + Imaging Association, and the Motion Control & Motor Association. A3 is currently at a record combined membership of 1,064 as of July 31.

“Year over year, our membership has been on a steady growth trajectory, the result of more companies understanding, and embracing, the direct impact automation can have on their bottom line,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. “We look forward to the continued advancement of our industry and helping companies of all sizes access the connections, information, and training they need to succeed with automation.”

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