Automation sales achieving highest levels of growth in 2017

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) reported sales records were set in the areas of robotics, machine vision, motion control, and motor technology for the first nine months of 2017.

By Association for Advancing Automation (A3) December 13, 2017

The North American automation market set new records through the first nine months of 2017, according to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). Records were set in the areas of robotics, machine vision, motion control, and motor technology.


For the first nine months of 2017, 27,294 orders of robots valued at $1.47 billion were sold in North America, which is the highest level ever recorded in any other year during the same time period. These figures represent growth of 14% in units and 10% in dollars during the first nine months of 2016. Automotive-related orders are up 11% in units and 10% in dollars, while non-automotive orders are up 20% and 11%, respectively.

For shipments, 25,936 robots valued at $1.49 billion were shipped in North America during the first nine months. These record high quantities represent growth of 18% in units and 13% in dollars over what sold in 2016. Automotive-related shipments also grew 12% in units and 9% in dollars during that time, with non-automotive shipments increasing by 32% and 22% for units and dollars, respectively. The industries with the highest levels of growth were metals (54%), automotive components (42%), and food and consumer goods (21%).

Motion control and motors

Total motion control shipments increased by 10% to $2.6 billion, marking the industry’s best nine month mark to date. The largest product category is motors (38% of shipments), followed by actuators and mechanical systems (18% of shipments), and electronic drives (17% of shipments).

The fastest growing categories in the first nine months of 2017 were motion controllers (24% to $147m), sensors and feedback devices (20% to $116m), ac drives (15% to $295m), actuators and mechanical systems (13% to $479m), and motors (11% to $1b).

The majority of suppliers believe that order and shipment volumes will increase in the next six months, with most distributors feeling that orders and shipments will be flat in the same time period.

Vision and imaging

The North American machine vision market recorded growth of 14% overall to $1.937 billion, 14% in systems to $1.657 billion, and 14% in components to $271 million. Each of those three categories set new records in the first nine months of this year, and every individual product category experienced positive year-over-year growth for the same period last year.

Notable growth rates were smart cameras (21% to $295 million), lighting (20% to $54 million), software (16% to $15 million), and component cameras (14% to $143 million). It is projected that lighting, optics, imaging boards, and software will trend up, while camera sales will remain flat.

Additionally, expectations are for application-specific machine vision (ASMV) systems to increase and smart cameras to remain flat over the same time period. The U.S. manufacturing sector expanded in the second quarter and is expected to remain strong through the end of the year.

Association for Advancing Automation (A3) 

– Edited from an A3 press release by CFE Media. A3 is a CFE Media content partner. See more stories about the A3 at

Author Bio: Association for Advancing Automation (A3)