Report: 2021 Robot Orders in North America Set New Record, Reach $2B

Propelled by a surge in non-automotive sectors, the number of robots sold in North America set a record in 2021, with 39,708 units sold at a value of $2 billion, a 14-percent increase over the previous high in 2017.
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Robotic Arm Taking A Cardboard Box In The Warehouse
According to the Association for Advancing Automation, robot orders hit record orders and value in 2021. // Stock Photo

Propelled by a surge in non-automotive sectors, the number of robots sold in North America set a record in 2021, with 39,708 units sold at a value of $2 billion, a 14-percent increase over the previous high in 2017.

According to new industry statistics released today by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) in Ann Arbor, the number of robots sold in 2021 rose 28 percent over 2020.

Record robot sales in the fourth quarter of the year — up 9 percent over Q4 2020 — demonstrated the strong momentum already realized through the previous nine months as more industries look to automation to increase productivity and alleviate ongoing labor shortages.

“More industries recognized that robotics could help reverse productivity declines and fill repetitive jobs human workers don’t want,” says Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. “As we’ve long believed — and users continue to confirm — robots help companies compete, ultimately creating more jobs to handle their growth.”

Non-automotive orders now represent 58 percent of the North American total. Unit sales to non-automotive industries saw the following increases in 2021 over 2020:

  • Metals: up 91 percent over 2020
  • Food and Consumer Goods: up 29 percent
  • Semiconductors and Electronics/Photonics: up 2 percent
  • Plastics and Rubber: up 4 percent
  • Life Sciences/Pharma/Biomed: up 4 percent
  • All Other Industries: up 65 percent

“Improvements in technology, new financing models, and simpler applications continue to be positive trend lines leading into 2022, in particular helping small companies automate and join the global stage,” Burnstein adds.

October through December of 2021 marked the highest and second-highest quarter on record for units and revenue, respectively. Non-automotive customers ordered 6,618 robots in Q4, which represents 61 percent of total units ordered. Automotive-related customers purchased 4,211 units, 39 percent of total orders. The following non-automotive industries in Q4 saw increases over the same quarter in 2020:

  • Metals: Up 23 percent
  • Food and Consumer Goods: Up 14 percent
  • Semi and Electronics/Photonics: Up 12 percent
  • Plastics and Rubber: Down 25 percent
  • All Other Industries: Up 74 percent

In related news, A3 has opened registration for Automate 2022, North America’s leading automation trade show and conference here.

The event, scheduled for June 6-9 in Detroit at the Huntington Place Convention Center, is the industry’s leading manufacturers and system integrators in robotics, machine vision, motion control, artificial intelligence, and smart automation.

Members of A3 represent nearly 1,100 automation manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, academic institutions, research groups, and consulting firms from throughout the world.

A3 hosts a number of industry events, including Automate Preview Series (Ongoing), A3 Business Forum (January 31-February 2, 2022, in Orlando), the Automate Show & Conference (June 6-9, 2022, in Detroit), The Autonomous Mobile Robot & Logistics Week (October 10-13, 2022, in Boston) and The Vision Show (October 11-13, 2022, in Boston).

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