ABB survey finds 70% of US businesses looking to bring pro-duction closer to home, robotic automation and workforce up-skilling essential to return of operations
- 70% plan to reshore or nearshore to address supply chain issues, 43% will use automation and robotics to build supply chain resilience
- At SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, DC, Sami Atiya, President of ABB’s Robotics & Discrete Automation Business called for public/private partnerships to upskill and prepare workers for the future of work
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical disputes, raw materials shortages and trade issues that have rocked global economies and supply chains, a majority of U.S.-based companies are planning to relocate production closer to home.
Surveying 1,610 executives in the U.S. and Europe, ABB found that 70% of U.S. businesses are planning changes in their operations, with 37% planning to bring production back home and 33% looking to nearshore and shift their operations to a closer location.
Business leaders are responding to unprecedented supply chain disruptions by putting into place measures to make operations more resilient and adaptable,” said Sami Atiya President of ABB’s Robotics & Discrete Automation Business, at SelectUSA. “While investment in automation plays a key role in flexibility in operations, equally important is investment in education, vocational training, and apprenticeship programs needed to create safer, higher-paying jobs for American workers.”
Atiya explained how the increasing need for flexibility and resilience in production is driving the interest in reshoring/nearshoring and, as a result, the demand for more automation. He underscored the role of robotics in facilitating reshoring or nearshoring efforts, addressing supply chain concerns and maintaining global competitiveness for U.S. businesses.
Once confined to the automotive industry, automation and robotics have significantly expanded across multiple industries and sectors across the United States, including logistics, food and beverage, retail, and healthcare. American companies are increasingly turning to automation and robotics driven by the need for greater flexibility in operations, widespread labor shortages and an aging workforce.
According to the International Federation of Robotics, the increase in robot density per 10,000 workers in North America, jumped 28% in Q1 2022 compared to first quarter of 2021, the highest rate of growth since records have been kept.
ABB’s study also found that American companies are relying more on automation to solve their supply chain woes. 43% of businesses surveyed indicated that they are expanding robotics and automation to address supply chain concerns and address customer demands, with 73% of US based businesses noting that robotics and automation will play a significant role in addressing supply chain issues.
Although there is a greater demand for robotics in the United States, ABB’s survey found that the rate of investment in automation remains higher in Europe, with 74% of European businesses indicating they will invest in robotics and automation in the next three years — compared to 62% in the US.
The role of automation and robotics in reshoring or nearshoring operations in the U.S. also depends on bridging the skills gap in robotics education and better educating and upskilling workers.
“Robotics and automation are job creators, requiring new ways of working with new skillsets,” noted Atiya “We are working with the U.S. government to share ABB’s experience in the US and other countries where we operate on how we can accelerate robotics and automation education, vocational training, and apprenticeship programs needed to create safer, and higher-paying jobs for American workers.”
Atiya presented at Select USA Tech: The Future of High-Tech Industries alongside other companies including Softbank Group International, GymPass and A-to-Be. In addition to taking about automation and robotics and the growing move to bring production closer to home, Atiya also noted that the business-friendly environment and level of entrepreneurship in the United States fuels ABB’s own innovation and growth there.
ABB in the United States
Since 2010, ABB has invested $14B in the U.S. with plant expansions, operational improvements, state-of-the-art equipment, products, and people, making it the company’s largest market. With approximately 20,000 employees in more than 40 manufacturing and distribution facilities, ABB is investing, growing and serving across America through industries that create jobs, encourage innovation and achieve a more productive, sustainable future. ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation operates a robotic facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan serving the automotive, food and beverage, healthcare and other industries.
ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation is a pioneer in robotics, machine automation and digital services, providing innovative solutions for a diverse range of industries, from automotive to electronics to logistics. As one of the world’s leading robotics and machine automation suppliers, we have shipped over 500,000 robot solutions. We help our customers of all sizes to increase productivity, flexibility and simplicity and to improve output quality. We support their transition towards the connected and collaborative factory of the future. ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation employs more than 10,000 people at over 100 locations in more than 53 countries. www.abb.com/robotics