Photo source: ABB
Despite an ongoing labor shortage in manufacturing which often drives automation, the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) recorded a second consecutive decline in robot orders in North America in the second quarter.
Companies ordered 7,697 robots valued at $457 million from April to July 2023, a 37% decline in robot orders and 20% drop in value over the same period in 2022. When combined with first quarter results, the robotics market in North America is down 29% compared to the first half of last year with a total of 16,865 robots ordered. This drop comes after a record 2022, where North American companies ordered 44,196 robots, up 11% over 2021, the previous record.
A3 attributes the decline to a slow U.S. economy and high interest rates.
Over the last five years, there had been a steady acceleration of robot orders, and even a surge of orders following the COVID-19 pandemic, A3 Vice President of Membership and Business Intelligence Alex Shikany ssaid in an Aug. 31 news release. Now, companies have less capital to invest, despite interest, he says.
“Record attendance at tradeshows such as Automate in Detroit this year show even greater interest in robotics and automation than ever before, but as these numbers show, not all are ready or able to pull the trigger just yet,” A3 President Jeff Burnstein said. “When the economy improves, however, the companies who have learned about the latest innovations in automation and how they can help them increase productivity, deal with labor shortages and get to market faster will be ready.”
Which Industry Sector Orders the Most Robots in 2Q 2023?
The strongest demand in Q2 came from the semiconductor and electronics industries, followed by life sciences/pharma and biomedical, plastics and rubber, and metals. Automotive components, food and consumer goods and automotive OEMs showing the biggest drops.
- Non-automotive customers ordered more robots in 2Q 2023 than automotive customers: 52% of units going to non-automotive industries and 48% going to automotive OEMs and component suppliers.
- Non-automotive orders down 21% compared to 2Q 2022 and automotive orders down 49%.