The Robotic Industries Association (RIA), Ann Arbor, Mich., announced that in 2016, the North American robotics market broke all-time records for orders and shipments. During the year, 34,606 robots valued at approximately $1.9 billion were ordered in North America, representing growth of 10% in units over 2015. Units shipped to North American customers also grew by 10%, with 30,875 robots valued at $1.8 billion shipped in 2016.

Strength in Q4
The fourth quarter of 2016 alone saw North American orders of 10,621 robots valued at $561 million, a growth rate of 18% in units ordered and 21% in revenue over the fourth quarter of 2015. Q4 shipments grew 33% on a unit basis with shipments of 8,825 robots valued at $494 million.

“Automation played a vital role in spurring economic growth in North American manufacturing and services industries in 2016,” says Jeff Burnstein, president of Association for Advancing Automation (A3), Ann Arbor, Mich. “We anticipate accelerated growth based on smarter, more connected and more collaborative robots in the coming years.”

Hottest applications and industries
Orders for robots spiked 61% in assembly applications and increased 24% in spot welding. The food and consumer goods industry increased orders for robots by 32% in 2016. Robots in these industries can be used in a variety of functions, including improving food safety, performing repetitive primary packaging tasks such as bin picking, tray loading and bottle handling, and assisting with secondary packaging tasks such as case packing, bundling, bagging and palletizing.