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Robotics transactions set new records for U.S. in 2017

Robotics, motion control, and vision technologies set new U.S. sales records last year.

February 26, 2018      

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The North American robotics, machine vision, and motion-control markets continue to set new records. Today, the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the leading global advocate for the benefits of automating, revealed its annual report on automation and robotics market statistics and financial transactions.

“What I find most telling about these results is not simply that the automation market continues to grow, but that it is growing in such a wide variety of industries,” according to Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. “New industries continue to embrace robotics, vision, and motion, reaping the benefits of automation.”

Robotics: $1.9B in total sales

2017 was a milestone year for the North American robotics market, as it surpassed previous high water marks in all four statistical categories: order units, order revenue, shipment units, and shipment revenue.

Jeff Burnstein, president of A3

Automation is growing across industries, notes A3 President Jeff Burnstein.

The amount of robots sold in North America last year surpassed all previous records. Customers purchased 34,904 total units, representing $1.896 billion in total sales. These numbers show growth of 0.9% in units and 0.1% in dollars from 2016.

While automotive-related orders were down compared with the previous year (-7.3% in units and -3.8% in dollars), non-automotive orders fueled the rise in 2017 with 20.5% growth in units and 7.3% in dollars.

The industry also set records for North American shipments in 2017: 33,575 robots valued at $1.938 billion shipped to customers last year. This is an expansion of 8.7% in units and 6.9% in dollars over 2016 levels, with non-automotive related shipments once again providing the growth. 2017 shipments increased 29.7% in units and 19.7% in dollars from 2016 results.

The largest growth rates for units shipped came from the plastics and rubber (59.6%), metals (53.9%), and food & consumer goods (44.2%). Automotive shipments were flat in both units and dollars compared with 2016.

Vision and imaging: Demand reaches highest levels at $2.6B

More imaging components and systems were sold than ever before last year, as demand for machine vision solutions reached record levels in North America. In 2017, total machine vision (MV) financial transactions in North America grew 14.6% over 2016 to $2.633 billion. Total MV financial transactions includes both systems and component markets. In 2017, total systems markets increased 14.8%, to $2.262 billion, while total component markets grew 12.3%, to $359 million.

Robotics, Vision and Motion Control Industries Set New Growth Records in 2017

The market began the year in the first quarter with $596.5 million in total financial transactions, increased in the second quarter to $644.9 million, and reached an all-time high of $696.4 million in the third quarter.

Despite a slight contraction, the fourth quarter was still the second best quarter ever for total MV financial transactions in North America, bringing increases of 16.7% to $694.8 million overall, 18.2% to $604.6 million in systems, and 5.7% to $87.8 million in components on a year-over-year basis.

Industry experts are bullish on all component markets for the first half of 2018 (except imaging boards, which are expected to stay flat). The industry also expects application-specific machine vision systems (ASMV) and smart camera sales to remain flat over the same period.

The 2018 Vision Show will be held in Boston from April 10 to 12, showcasing the largest array of machine vision and imaging components and solutions in North America. Highlights include the Embedded Vision Pavilion and conference track, the startup competition, and the Collaborative Robots conference track. Register at

Motion control and motors: 8.1% shipment growth

Shipments of motion control and motor products grew 8.1%, from $3.245 billion in 2016 to $3.559 billion in 2017. The largest product category in terms of sales is motors, comprising 38.1% of total shipments.

Actuators and mechanical systems is second largest, with 18.5% of shipments.

Motion controllers was the fastest growing category in 2017, increasing 20.7% to $196.4 million, followed by AC drives (12.7% to $388.0 million) and actuators and mechanical systems (12.4% to $658.2 million).

About A3

The Association for Advancing Automation is the global advocate for the benefits of automating. A3 promotes automation technologies and ideas that transform the way business is done. A3 is the umbrella group for the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), AIA – Advancing Vision + Imaging, and Motion Control & Motor Association (MCMA). RIA, AIA, and MCMA combined represent over 1,070 automation manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, research groups, and consulting firms from throughout the world that drive automation forward.