Robot orders and shipments in North America set new records in the first nine months of 2014, according to Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.  A total of 21,235 robots valued at $1.2 billion were ordered from North American companies in that period, an increase of 35% in units and 22% in dollars over the same period in 2013.

Robot shipments to North American customers through September totaled 18,490 robots valued at $1.1 billion, breaking the previous record set in 2013 by five percent in units and two percent in dollars.

Sales activity was strongest in the automotive industry, with orders up 48% year to date over 2013. Non-automotive industries, such as Electronics, Food & Consumer Goods, and Metals also posted double digit growth in the first nine months of the year.

“The robotics industry in North America is having its best year ever in 2014,” said Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. “Along with record performance, we are seeing more interest in robotics and related technologies than ever before. Companies of all sizes continue to recognize that automation makes them stronger global competitors. It’s also interesting to note that as robot sales boom, U.S. unemployment continues to fall, and is currently at its lowest level since July of 2008, further evidence that robotics helps save and create jobs.”

“We’ve seen substantial growth in robot applications across the board,” added Alex Shikany, RIA Director of Market Analysis. “Spot Welding (76%), Arc Welding (39%), and Assembly (29%) applications have recorded the highest year over year growth through September.” RIA estimates that some 230,000 robots are now at use in United States factories, placing the U.S. second only to Japan in robot use.