North American Robot Orders Slow After Record 2022, Reports A3

The Association for Advancing Automation found that companies purchased just under 10,000 units in the first quarter of 2023, down 21% from Q1 2022.

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A3 noted that automotive orders are up, even as robotics sales totals faltered in Q1 of 2023.
North American robot sales softened in Q1 2023, according to the Association for Advancing Automation, which cited a slowing U.S. economy as a likely cause. Automotive orders rebounded.

North American companies ordered fewer robots in the first quarter of 2023 than for the same period last year, according to the latest report from the Association for Advancing Automation, or A3.

Companies ordered 9,168 units valued at $597 million in Q1 2023, a 21% drop in total units. It was a 10% drop in value over the same quarter in 2022, which was the third-best quarter on record for North America, noted the association.

Automotive customers accounted for 68% of all robot orders in Q1, with 5,659 robots purchased. During the first quarter of 2023, non-automotive orders in consumer goods, semiconductor and electronics, plastics and rubber, life sciences/pharmaceutical/biomedical, metals, and others purchased 3,519 robots, down 42% over Q1 2022.

“While inflation and a slowing U.S. economy may have taken a slight toll on robot orders overall, automotive companies continue to accelerate their purchases as they make the transition to manufacturing electric vehicles,” stated Jeff Burnstein, president of A3, in a press release.

“Non-automotive companies are typically newer to automation and may be waiting to invest more until they’ve tested recent deployments or see the economy begin to recover,” he added. “They also might be waiting to see the latest innovations in robotics at Automate 2023 next week in Detroit. We’re seeing big registration numbers from all industries and can’t wait to show everyone what’s possible with automation today!”

Labor shortages, reshoring aid adoption; inflation a possible deterrent

Despite the state of the U.S. economy, labor shortages, led by the manufacturing industry, remain the key driver in the growth of automation, said A3. As a result, more manufacturers continue to turn to robotics, especially to handle the “dull, dirty and dangerous” tasks unattractive to human workers, it said.

“In addition to labor shortages, we’re seeing many U.S. manufacturers bring more tasks back to North America as international labor costs continue to climb,” said Alex Shikany, vice president of membership and business intelligence at A3. “Many find that the best way to bring manufacturing back quickly is to automate.”

Automate 2023 to discuss robotics trends, best practices

Attendees at Automate 2023 can learn about the latest in robotics, as well as vision, artificial intelligence, motion control, and more, said A3. Registration for the trade show, which will be from May 22 to 25 at the Huntington Place convention center in Detroit, is free, but the conference has daily fees.

The Association for Advancing Automation said it is the leading global advocate for the benefits of technologies that transform business. Its members include nearly 1,200 manufacturers, component suppliers, systems integrators, end users, academic institutions, research groups, and consulting firms.

In addition to Automate, A3 hosts other industry events, including the Robotic Grinding and Finishing Conference (July 25 and 26 in Minneapolis), Autonomous Mobile Robots and Logistics 2023 (Oct. 4 and 5 in Memphis, Tenn.), the International Robot Safety Conference 2023 (Oct. 9 and 11 in Pittsburgh), the AI & Smart Automation Conference 2023 (Oct. 10 and 11, 2023, Pittsburgh), and the A3 Business Forum (Jan. 15 to 17, 2024, in Orlando, Fla.).

Editor's note: For more about Automate 2023, visit Robotics 24/7's special coverage page.

Detroit will be hosting Automate 2023 next week.

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A3 noted that automotive orders are up, even as robotics sales totals faltered in Q1 of 2023.

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