Robots shipped to North American companies in record numbers last year, with more non-automotive companies installing robots than ever before, according to statistics from the Robotic Industries Association (RIA).
35,880 units were shipped in 2018, a 7 percent increase over 2017, with 16,702 shipments to non-automotive companies, up 41 percent.
Notable growth came in areas like food and consumer goods (48 percent), plastics and rubber (37 percent), life sciences (31 percent), and electronics (22 percent).
Meanwhile, shipments to the automotive industry slowed, with only 19,178 units shipped to North American automotive OEM and tier supplier customers in 2018.
This was 12 percent lower than the 21,732 units shipped in 2017. Overall, the automotive industry accounted for only 53 percent of total robot shipments in North America in 2018, its lowest percentage share since 2010.
“While the automotive industry has always led the way in implementing robotics here in North America, we are quite pleased to see other industries continuing to realise the benefits of automation,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the umbrella group containing the RIA.
“And as we’ve heard from our members and at shows such as Automate, these sales and shipments aren’t just to large, multinational companies anymore.
“Small and medium-sized companies are using robots to solve real-world challenges, which is helping them be more competitive on a global scale.”