The global motion control and motor market saw a 0.2% decline in shipments in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, down to $952.3 million. However, according to the Motion Control & Motor Association, part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), shipments were up 0.6% ($6 million) compared to the fourth quarter of 2018.
“While the year-over-year numbers show a slight decline, it’s promising to see the increase from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019 and hear positive projections for the months ahead from the member companies we polled,” said A3 Vice President Dana Whalls. “Motion control and motor technologies play a substantial role in growing automation worldwide, and if what we’re hearing is any indication, we expect both sales and shipments to continue to increase over the next six months as these tools get smarter, more capable, and more productive.”
During Q1 2019, the largest categories within the overall market were motors (39% shipments), actuators and mechanical systems (18% shipments), and electronic drives (17% shipments). From Q1 2018 to Q1 2019 motor shipments were down 1.8%, actuators & mechanical systems were down 8.9%, and electronic drive shipments were flat.
From Q4 2018 to Q1 2019, motor shipments were up 0.6% to $373.6 million, actuators and mechanical systems were down 0.4% to $174.6 million, and shipments of electronic drives were up 1% to $161.1 million. The market experienced record growth in 2018, with $3.827 billion in shipments, up 8 percent over 2017.
According to the latest MCMA survey of industry experts, 69% of member companies surveyed expect higher shipments and 23% expect orders to remain flat.
Machine vision sales
A3 recently reported that North American sales of machine vision components and systems that provide vision intelligence to robots and other machines declined 4.5 percent Q1 2019 when compared to the same period in 2018. According to statistics, financial transactions for the entire market contracted to $674 million, with sales of MV components down 12.6 percent to $93 million and sales of MV systems down 3.1 percent to $579 million.
Sales of MV components and systems totaled $2.874 billion in 2018, an increase of 9.2% over 2017 and a new record for the market.
Robot sales in North America down 3.5%
The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) recently reported that robot orders in North America also declined slightly in Q1 2019 in comparison with the first quarter of 2018. From January through March 2019, North American companies ordered a total of 7,876 robots worth $423 million, said the RIA. That’s 3.5% fewer units and 3.2% less in value than in the first quarter of 2018.
“[Some RIA] members have told me that slowing capital expenditures were a factor,” Shikany told The Robot Report.