According to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), a global advocate and promoter of the benefits of automation in Ann Arbor, robot sales in the third quarter of 2021 brought the total number of robot sales this year to nearly 29,000 units valued at $1.48 billion, the best numbers ever recorded for the North American robotics market.
The strong quarter showed a 37 percent increase in units sold and a 35 percent value increase year-over-year. These numbers broke the previous North American industry records set in 2017 by 5.8 percent and 0.5 percent respectively.
“With labor shortages throughout manufacturing, logistics, and virtually every industry, companies of all sizes are increasingly turning to robotics and automation to stay productive and competitive,” says Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. “As our latest statistics indicate, sales are on track to make 2021 the biggest year ever for robotics orders in North America.
“We see many current users expanding their applications of robotics and automation throughout their facilities while first time robotics users are emerging in a wide range of industries such as automotive, agriculture, construction, electronics, food processing, life sciences, metalworking, warehousing and more.”
In Q3 alone, North American companies ordered 9,928 robots valued at $513 million, up 32 percent and 35 percent respectively year-over-year. This quarter is the third highest quarter ever in units ordered and fifth highest in value.
In the first nine months of 2021, automotive-related orders increased 20 percent year-over-year to 12,544 units ordered. Non-automotive orders outpaced this growth, expanding 53 percent to 16,355 units ordered, marking only the second time non-automotive orders have surpassed automotive-related orders in the first nine months of a year.
Nearly two-thirds of sales (6,302) came from non-automotive industries, further demonstrating the trend of robotics growing into areas other than automotive OEMs and tier suppliers. Unit sales from non-automotive industries in Q3 saw the following increases year-over-year:
- Metals: 183 percent
- Food and consumer goods: 40 percent
- Semi and electronics/photonics: 26 percent
- Plastics and rubber: 10 percent
- All other industries: 97 percent
“3M is seeing an upswing in providing automated solutions and processes for our customers, but as a manufacturer ourselves, we are also increasingly investing in automation,” says Carl Doeksen, global robotics/automation director, 3M’s Abrasive Systems Division. 3M is an A3 member.
“The pandemic put a spotlight on the benefits that automated processes bring—from the ability to ramp-up and scale-up production quickly and efficiently, to helping improve the lives of our employees, our customers, and their families.”