ANN ARBOR, MI—The North American robotics, machine vision and motion control market continues to set new records. According to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the industry achieved several milestones in 2017.

Last year, the North American robotics market surpassed previous high water marks in all four statistical categories: order units, order revenue, shipment units and shipment revenue.

Manufacturers purchased 34,904 total units, representing $1.9 billion in total sales. Although automotive-related orders were down compared to the previous year, nonautomotive orders grew 21 percent.

The largest growth rates for units shipped came from the plastics and rubber (60 percent), metals (54 percent), and food and consumer goods (44 percent) industries.

Demand for vision and imaging systems also increased in 2017.

“More imaging components and systems were sold than ever before, as demand for machine vision solutions reached record levels in North America,” claims Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. “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 17 percent to $695 million overall.”

In addition, shipments of motion control and motor products grew 8 percent from 2016 to 2017. The largest product category in terms of sales is motors, comprising 38 percent of total shipments, followed by actuators and mechanical systems (19 percent).

“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,” says Burnstein. “New industries continue to embrace robotics, vision and motion, reaping the benefits of automation.”