The robots are coming, and coming, and coming . . .

cobotRobots were shipped to North American companies in record numbers last year, with more non-automotive companies installing robots than ever before, according to new statistics from the Robotic Industries Association (RIA; Ann Arbor, MI), part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3).

In 2018, 35,880 units were shipped, a 7% increase over 2017. Shipments to non-automotive companies grew a whopping 41% to 16,702 for the year. That growth came in several areas, including food and consumer goods (48%), plastics and rubber (37%), life sciences (31%) and electronics (22%).

Shipments to the automotive industry slowed, with 19,178 units shipped to North American automotive OEMs and tier suppliers in 2018, a 12% decline from 2017, said the RIA report.

Overall, the automotive industry accounted for just 53% 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 realize the benefits of automation,” said A3 President Jeff Burnstein. “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.”

A3 is the umbrella association for RIA, the Advancing Vision Imaging Association (AIA) and the Motion Controls & Motor Association (MCMA). The group also includes the Association for Advancing Automation Mexico.

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