Canadian Plastics

Q1 2021 robot orders surge 20 per cent over 2020, association says

The strong Q1 for robot orders was the second-best start to any year on record, the A3 association said, and the second-best quarter on record for non-automotive orders.

May 12, 2021   Canadian Plastics

Orders for new robots and robotic automation jumped 20 per cent in North America in the first quarter of 2021 over the same period in 2020, according to a new report from the Association for Advancing Automation (A3).

There were spikes in orders from companies in metals (up 86 per cent), life sciences/pharmaceutical/biomed (up 72 per cent), food and consumer goods (up 32 per cent), and other non-automotive industries (12 per cent).

According to Ann Arbor, Mich.-based A3, North American companies purchased 9,098 units valued at US$466 million in Q1, with non-automotive companies purchasing 28 per cent more robots over Q1 2020 and automotive OEMs and component suppliers combined seeing a 12 per cent increase year-over-year.

“Robot sales have increased considerably as more and more companies in every industry recognize that robotics and automation can help them compete globally,” said A3 president Jeff Burnstein. “While advances in robot technology, ease of use and new applications remain key drivers in robot adoption, worker shortages in manufacturing, warehousing, and other industries are a significant factor in the current expansion of robot use that we’re now seeing. COVID didn’t create the move toward automation, but certainly has accelerated trends that already were underway.”

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The strong Q1 for robot orders was the second-best start to any year on record (after 2017) and the second-best quarter on record for non-automotive orders, behind the fourth quarter of 2020.

Q4 2020 was also the second-best quarter ever for North America robot sales with a 64 per cent increase over Q4 2019. In 2020, yearly orders of robots from non-automotive sectors surpassed automotive robot orders for the first time, as sales of robotic units in North America increased four per cent in 2020 from 2019.

“We expect increasing demand for robotics and automation to continue in North America and throughout the world after the pandemic has ended,” Burnstein added. “We also expect that the increased use of automation will help companies be better prepared to face any future pandemics.”


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