The Ann Arbor-based Association for Advancing Automation (A3) today announced that the robotics, machine vison, motion control, and motor technology industries set records through the first nine months of 2017.
At the same time, A3’s data indicates that the majority of suppliers believe that order and shipment volumes will increase in the next six months, with most distributors expecting orders and shipments to be flat in the same time period. Automation experts expect lighting, optics, imaging boards, and software will trend up, while camera sales will remain flat in the next six months.
“The market for robotics and automation continues at a healthy growth rate,” says Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. “It’s evident that the investment companies are making in these automation technologies is having a positive impact on productivity and competitiveness, while saving and creating new jobs in North America.”
Specifically, through October 2017, 27,294 orders of robots valued at approximately $1.5 billion were sold throughout North America, the highest level ever recorded in any other year during the same time period. This represents an increase of 14 percent in units and 10 percent in dollars, compared to the same time in 2016. Automotive orders increased 11 percent in units and 10 percent in dollars, while non-automotive orders increased 20 percent and 11 percent respectively.
The most successful industries were reported to be metals (54 percent), automotive components (42 percent), and food and consumer goods (21 percent).
Total motion control shipments increased by 10 percent to $2.6 billion, marking the industry’s best nine months since A3 has been tracking these figures. The largest product category is motors (38 percent), followed by actuators and mechanical systems (18 percent), and electronic drives (17 percent).
The fastest growing categories were reported to be motion controllers (24 percent to $147 million), sensors and feedback deliveries (20 percent to $116 million), AC drives (15 percent to $295 million), actuators and mechanical systems (13 percent to $479 million), and motors (11 percent to $1 billion).
The North American machine vision market also continued its best start to the year in 2017, with growth of 14 percent overall to $1.9 billion, 14 percent increases in systems to $1.7 billion, and 14 percent in components to $271 million. Each of those three categories set new records from January to August and every individual product category experienced positive year-over-year growth from the same time in 2016. Specifically, smart cameras saw 21 percent increases to $295 million, lighting increased 20 percent to $54 million, software 16 percent to $15 million, and component cameras up 14 percent to $143 million.