For the first half of 2017, records were set in the areas of robotics, machine vision, motion control, and motor technology, according results from the Association for Advancing Automation’s (A3) results of research on robotics and automation trends, sales, and growth. A3 provides quarterly statistical reports to its members for benchmarking and business intelligence purposes.
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% in units and 26% in dollars over 2016. Automotive related orders grew substantially in that time, increasing 39% in units and 37% in dollars, while non-automotive orders also grew 21% in units and 10% in dollars over the first half of 2016.
Motion control & motors
For the first half of 2017, orders for motion control and motor products amounted to $1.622 billion, up 14% over the first six months of 2016. Shipments totaled $1.757 billion, up 10% over the first half of 2016, and the fastest growing categories in that timeframe, in terms of shipments, were motion controllers (21% to $97 million), sensors & feedback devices (20% to $76 million), actuators & mechanical systems (17% to $318 million), and AC drives (17% to $199 million).
Vision & 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% over the same period in 2016. Machine vision component markets were up 11% in total to $177 million and systems increased 10% to $1.058 billion. Some notable growth rates were: lighting (20% to $35 million), smart cameras (16% to $183 million), and optics (16% 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 (ASMV) systems to increase and smart cameras to remain flat in the next two quarters.
A longtime advocate for and supporter of the robotics, machine vision, motion control and motor markets, A3 is comprised of three sister associations: the Robotic Industries Association (RIA); the Advancing Vision + Imaging Association (AIA); and the Motion Control & Motor Association (MCMA).