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Q3 Robot Orders Put 2021 on Track for Biggest Year Yet, Says Automation Association

According to data from the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), robot sales totaled $1.48 billion at the end of Q3 2021, surpassing the previous nine-month record, which was set in 2017.

Posted: December 19, 2021


The robot sales so far this year involve nearly 29,000 units, the best number ever recorded for the North American robotics market, according to the A3. The association added that the numbers show increases of 35 percent in value (up from $1.09 billion) and 37 percent in units sold (up from 21,072) over the same period in 2020.

“With labor shortages throughout manufacturing, logistics and virtually every industry, companies of all sizes are increasingly turning to robotics and automation to stay productive and competitive,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. “As our latest statistics indicate, sales are on track to make 2021 the biggest year ever for robotics orders in North America.  We see many current users expanding their applications of robotics and automation throughout their facilities.”

In Q3 alone, North American companies ordered 9,928 robots, up 32 percent over Q3 2020. Those robots were valued at $513 million, up 35 percwent over Q3 2020. Those numbers represent the third highest quarter ever in units ordered and the fifth highest in value.

In the first nine months of 2021, automotive-related orders increased 20 percent year over year to 12,544 units ordered, but non-automotive orders increased 53 percent to 16,355 units ordered. A3 said this is only the second time that automotive-related orders were surpassed by non-automotive orders in the first nine months of a year, the first time was in 2020.

In Q3 2021 specifically, nearly two-thirds of sales (6,302 units) came from non-automotive industries, further indicating the trend of robotics growing into areas outside of automotive OEM and tier suppliers. Q3 unit sales from non-automotive industries saw the following increases compared with Q3 2020 unit sales:

  • Metals: 183 percent
  • Food and Consumer Goods: 40 percent
  • Semi and Electronics/Photonics: 26 percent
  • Plastics and Rubber: 10 percent
  • All Other Industries: 97 percent

3M, an A3 member, has experienced the trends firsthand. “3M is seeing an upswing in providing automated solutions and processes for our customers, but as a manufacturer ourselves, we are also increasingly investing in automation,” said Carl Doeksen, global robotics/automation director, 3M’s abrasive systems division. “The pandemic put a spotlight on the benefits that automated processes bring—from the ability to ramp-up and scale-up production quickly and efficiently, to helping improve the lives of our employees, our customers, and their families.”

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