ANN ARBOR, MI — The North American robotics, machine vision and motion control markets continue to set new records, according to the Association for Advancing Automation's annual report on automation and robotics market statistics.
"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: $1.9 Billion 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.
The amount of robots sold in North America last year surpassed all previous records. Customers purchased 34,904 total units representing $1.9 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 to 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 $1.94 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 to 2016.
Vision and Imaging: Demand Reaches Highest Levels at $2.6 Billion
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 machine vision financial transactions is comprised of 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.
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 machine vision 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 except imaging boards (flat) for the first half of 2017. The industry also expects application specific machine vision systems (ASMV) and smart camera sales to remain flat over the same period.
Motion Control and Motors: 8.1% Shipment Growth
Shipments of motion control and motor products grew 8.1%, from $3.25 billion in 2016 to $3.56 billion in 2017. The largest product category in terms of sales is motors, comprising 38.1% of total shipments. Actuators & 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).