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22 April, 2024

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North American robot sales dropped by 30% in 2023

13 February, 2024

Following record orders in both 2021 and 2022, sales of industrial robots fell by 30% in North America during 2023, according to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). North American companies bought a total of 31,159 robots in 2023, compared to the 44,196 they ordered in 2022, and 39,708 in 2021.

The 2023 orders were split almost equally between those for automotive applications (15,723) and for non-automotive (15,436). This represents a 34% drop in sales to automotive OEMs and automotive suppliers compared to 2022, and a drop of 25% in sales to 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 US economy; higher interest rates; and even the over-purchasing of robots in 2022 because of supply chain concerns,” says A3 president, Jeff Burnstein. “We’ve seen a slowdown in the manufacturing of electric vehicles this year along and fewer new distribution centres – 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,” Burnstein adds. “In fact, we anticipate record numbers at our Automate Show in May as more companies prepare for new automation projects.”

The strongest non-automotive demand for robots in North America during 2023 came from the metals industry, followed by semiconductor and electronics/photonics, food and consumer goods, life sciences, pharmaceutical and biomedical, and plastics and rubber.

Burnstein: optimism is strong for growth

While each of these sectors declined compared to 2022, the last three months of 2023 saw higher sales in several sectors including automotive (both OEM and components), metals, semiconductor & electronics/photonics, plastics & rubbers, and metals, resulting in a rise of 20% over the previous quarter.

“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 to automotive and non-automotive companies,” Burnstein reports. “Both are promising signs that more industries are becoming increasingly comfortable with automation. While we expect to see automotive orders rise again, there’s little doubt that orders will increase from all non-automotive industries as they recognise how robots can help them to overcome their unique challenges.”




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