August 19, 2016

2 Min Read
North American Orders for Manufacturing Robots Sets Record
An autobot at a Tesla Motors factory. Image courtesy of Flickr user jurvetson

North American companies ordered 14,583 robots for manufacturing and other business purposes in the first half of 2016, setting a record for the largest number of robot orders in the first half of a year, according to data released Tuesday by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3).

Orders in the first six months of 2016 increased by 2% compared to the same period the previous year. when 13,520 robots were ordered by North American companies at a value of $838 million. During that period, robot manufacturers shipped 13,620 robots worth $838 million to customers, setting a new record for shipment revenue in the first six months of a year.

“The robotics industry is thriving today as more companies of all sizes are realizing the benefits of automation,” A3’s president Jeff Burnstein said in a press release announcing the data’s release. “The increasing functionality, flexibility, affordability, and safety of robots today contributes to how this dynamic market is reshaping the global manufacturing landscape.”

Orders from automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) climbed 16% in the first half of 2016, and orders component suppliers grew by 4%. Food and consumer goods oriented customers ordered 41% more robots compared to the first half of 2015.

While the organization documented growth in orders from many segments, orders from all other non-automotive industries dropped 14%. The largest gains, according to A3, were in inspection (69%), assembly (38%), and spot welding (21%).

The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) estimates that about 265,000 robots are used in North American factories, the third largest market for manufacturing-oriented robots behind China and Japan.

A3 also found that global shipments of motion control-related products increased by 3%, or $1.54 billion, in the first six months of the year.

“The encouraging first half performance was largely driven by growth in three important product categories,” said Alex Shikany, Motion Control & Motor Association (MCMA) director of market analysis said in a statement. “Two of the largest segments were track, actuators/mechanical systems (11%) and electronic drives (8%), saw strong growth in the first half of the year. Motion controllers, one of the hottest current product markets, also increased by 8% in the first half of 2016.”

In the year’s second quarter, the category was led by electronic drives (16%), actuators and mechanical systems (12%), and motion controllers (11%).

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