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Robots 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), part of the Association for Advancing Automation.

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

Shipments to the automotive industry did slow, with 19,178 units shipped to North American automotive OEM and tier supplier customers in 2018 – a 12% decline from 2017.

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,” A3 president Jeff Burnstein said. “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.”

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