2017 was a record year for robotics

New data from the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) has revealed that 2017 was a tipping point for automation and robotics as falling prices have spurred adoption across a number of industries. 

A3's numbers covered automation sales and shipments during the first nine months of 2017.  This period saw record sales of robotics, motion control, machine vision and motor technology highlighting the rate at which automation is being added across a variety of sectors such as light manufacturing, fulfilment and even healthcare and food services. 

In North America alone, there were 27,924 orders of robots totalling $1.473 billion throughout the first nine months of the year.  This the highest robotics sales have ever been representing an increase in growth by 14 per cent in units when compared to the same period last year. 

Heavy industries have used robots for some time now but even they added a great deal more capacity this year thanks in part to falling prices and wider availability.  Automotive robotics orders were also up by 11 per cent when compared to 2016. 

Industries that were unable to deploy automation until recently due to the high cost, saw the largest growth and non-automotive orders were up by 20 per cent.  Falling sensor prices and new companies offering easily-deployable robots for warehouses helped drive adoption as well as a race to keep up with Amazon in the e-commerce space. 

Automation and robotics growth will likely continue in the new year and 2018 could see the robots being deployed in consumer-facing businesses such as hotels, hospitals and possibly even restaurants. 

Image Credit: Praphan Jampala / Shutterstock