Manufacturing AUTOMATION

North American robot orders declined in 2023, A3 report finds

February 12, 2024
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

A recent Association for Advancing Automation (A3) report finds that robot sales in North American declined by 30 percent in 2023 after record orders in the two previous years. Companies purchased 31,159 robots in 2023, compared to 44,196 ordered in 2022 and 39,708 in 2021. These 2023 orders were divided almost equally among automotive (15,723 robots sold) and non-automotive companies (15,436 robots sold). There was a 34 percent drop in sales to automotive OEMs and automotive suppliers over 2022 and a 25 percent total decrease in all other industries.
“While robot sales naturally ebb and flow, the return to more typical robot sales after the last two record years can likely be attributed to a few obvious issues: a slow U.S. economy, higher interest rates and even the over-purchasing of robots in 2022 from supply chain concerns,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. “We’ve seen a slowdown in the manufacturing of electronic vehicles this year along with fewer new distribution centers, both likely reducing the demand for robots. From what we’re hearing in our member surveys and at recent events, however, optimism is strong for growth, potentially picking up in the second half of the year. In fact, we anticipate record numbers at our Automate Show in May as more companies prepare for new automation projects.”
In 2023, the strongest demand for robots from non-automotive companies came from the metal industry, followed by semiconductor and electronics/photonics; food and consumer goods; life sciences, pharmaceutical and biomedical, plastics and rubber, and others.
A3 notes that while each of these industries showed an overall decline compared to 2022, the last three months of the year saw higher sales in automotive (both OEM and components), metals, semiconductor and electronics/photonics, plastics and rubbers, metals and the ‘all other industries’ category. This resulted in an increase of 20 percent over the previous quarter (Q3 2023). The ‘all other industries’ category includes companies in areas such as construction, hospitality and agriculture, typically newer to robotics.
“While robotic sales were down over the year, 2023 ended with both an increase over the previous quarter and a nearly equal number of sales from automotive and non-automotive companies,” Burnstein said. “Both are promising signs that more industries are becoming increasingly comfortable with automation overall. While we expect to see automotive orders rise again, there’s little doubt that orders will increase from all non-automotive industries as they recognize how robots can help them overcome their unique challenges.”

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