The rush to add robots is part of a larger upswing in investment as companies seek to keep up with strong demand, which in some cases has contributed to shortages of key goods. At the same time, many firms have struggled to lure back workers displaced by the pandemic and view robots as an alternative to adding human muscle on their assembly lines.
“Businesses just can’t find the people they need – that’s why they’re racing to automate,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of the Association for Advancing Automation, known as A3.
Robots also continue to push into more corners of the economy. Auto companies have long bought most industrial robots. But in 2020, combined sales to other types of businesses surpassed the auto sector for the first time – and that trend continued this year.
In the first nine months of the year, auto-related orders for robots grew 20% to 12,544 units, according to A3, while orders by non-automotive companies expanded 53% to 16,355.
Reporting by Timothy Aeppel in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis