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A3 reports record growth of robotics and automation sales in North America

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) has revealed the results of its latest research on robotics and automation trends, sales, and growth.

As expected, many records were set in the areas of robotics, machine vision, motion control and motor technology for the first half of 2017, says A3. 


The North American robotics market had its best opening half ever to begin 2017, setting new records in all four statistical categories – order units, order revenue, shipment units, and shipment revenue.

In total, 19,331 robots valued at approximately $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 per cent in units and 26 per cent in dollars over 2016.

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

Motion control and motors

For the first half of 2017, orders for motion control and motor products amounted to $1.622 billion, up 14 per cent over the first six months of 2016.

Shipments totaled $1.757 billion, up 10 per cent over the first half of 2016, and the fastest growing categories in that timeframe, in terms of shipments, were:

  • motion controllers (21 per cent to $97 million);
  • sensors and feedback devices (20 per cent to $76 million);
  • actuators and mechanical systems (17 per cent to $318 million); and
  • AC drives (17 per cent to $199 million).

Vision and imaging

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 per cent over the same period in 2016.

Machine vision component markets were up 11 per cent in total to $177 million and systems increased 10 per cent to $1.058 billion.

Some notable growth rates were:

  • lighting (20 per cent to $35 million);
  • smart cameras (16 per cent to $183 million); and
  • Optics (16 per cent to $20 million).

Experts expect 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.