October 19, 2021

ABB automotive 400x275Robot orders in North America in the second quarter of 2021 were up 67% over the same period in 2020, showing a return to pre-COVID-19 pandemic demand for automation, the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) reported. North American companies ordered 9,853 robots, valued at $501 million in Q2 2021, up from 5,196 robots in Q2 2020, the peak of the pandemic.

A3 says the increase represents the third-highest quarter on record for robot units sold overall. Continuing a trend of robots expanding to markets outside of the automotive industry, more than half of the orders during Q2 2021 (5,350) came from non-automotive customers, such as metals, semiconductor & electronics, plastics and rubber, food and consumer goods, and life sciences. For the year, robot orders are up 40.1% when compared with the same period in 2020.

“With the big increases in automation sales, and favorable economic conditions in the U.S. manufacturing sector throughout much of 2021, it’s clear users have accelerated their orders for robotics and other forms of advanced technologies,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. “While companies have long realized that automation increases efficiency, expands production and empowers human employees to do more valuable tasks, the pandemic helped even more industries realize those benefits. By automating – either for the first time or expanding on how they use automation – companies will be better prepared to handle any upcoming issues that impact their business.”

Q2 robot orders 2020 2021

Increases in robot orders in Q2 (compared to 2020) were up in the following areas:

  • Metals – up 99%
  • Automotive components – up 85%
  • Semiconductor and electronics / photonics – up 62%
  • Plastics and rubber – up 51%
  • Food and consumer goods – up 51%
  • Automotive OEM – up 49%
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and biomed – up 21%

A3 also reported record increases in the machine vision, motion control and motor markets, as the market expanded 26% to $764 million, a new record. For the period of January through June 2021, the North American machine vision market grew 18% to $1.5 billion, which A3 said is the best start to a year on record.

The motion control and motors sector recorded $1.065 billion in shipments, 13% greater than Q2 2020 sales, also setting a new record. A3 said motors, actuators and mechanical systems and electronic drives saw the largest increases.

“The revitalization of automation we’re seeing across myriad industries is extremely encouraging,” said Burnstein. “Not only will the increase in automation use be a win for our member companies, but it will help the U.S. economy grow even more as customers increase productivity and fill the millions of manufacturing jobs that remain unfilled.”

For more information regarding the A3, visit its website here.