Last year, robots were shipped to companies for their North American operations in record numbers with more non-automotive companies installing robots than ever before, according to statistics from the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3).
RIA figures show 35,880 units were shipped in 2018, a 7% increase over 2017, with 16,702 shipments to non-automotive companies, up 41%. Notable growth came in areas like food and consumer goods (48%), plastics and rubber (37%), life sciences (31%), and electronics (22%).
Meanwhile, shipments to the automotive industry slowed, with only 19,178 units shipped to North American automotive OEM and supplier customers in 2018. This was 12% lower than the 21,732 units shipped in 2017. Overall, the automotive industry accounted for only 53% of total robot shipments in North America in 2018, its lowest percentage share since 2010.
In Mexico, orders of robots totaled 3,907 units, just 10.9% of total. Contrary to the trend, the sector with the highest participation was the manufacture of automotive components with 71%, followed by automotive OEMs with 12%, and 17% remaining for other sectors.
The three main applications that most use robots in Mexico have to do with spot welding with 23%, arc welding with 24%, and 41% for material handling.
The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) predicts that by 2019 the number of robot orders in Mexico will increase to 6,000 units, by 2020 the figure will rise to 7,500 units and by 2021 to 9,000 units.