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Robot Sales in North America Have Strongest Year Ever in 2021

POSTED 02/09/2022

New Association for Advancing Automation (A3) report shows $2 billion in sales (39,708 units) in 2021 – up 28% over 2020 and 14% ahead of previous high in 2017

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN –  Propelled by a surge in non-automotive sectors, the number of robots sold in North America set a new record in 2021, with 39,708 units sold at a value of $2 billion, a 14% increase over the previous high in 2017.

According to new industry statistics released today by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the number of robots sold in 2021 rose 28% over 2020. Record robot sales in the fourth quarter of the year — up 9% over Q4 2020 — demonstrated the strong momentum already realized through the previous nine months as more industries look to automation to increase productivity and alleviate ongoing labor shortages.

“More industries recognized that robotics could help reverse productivity declines and fill repetitive jobs human workers don’t want. It is no longer a choice whether to deploy robots and automation,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of A3. “It’s now an absolute imperative. As we’ve long believed—and users continue to confirm—robots help companies compete, ultimately creating more jobs to handle their growth.” 

2021 shows continued trend of non-automotive ordering more robots

Non-automotive orders now represent 58% of the North American total. Unit sales to non-automotive industries saw the following increases in 2021 over 2020:

  • Metals: up 91% over 2020
  • Food and Consumer Goods:  up 29%  
  • Semiconductors and Electronics/Photonics: up 2%  
  • Plastics and Rubber: up 4%  
  • Life Sciences/Pharma/Biomed: up 4%  
  • All Other Industries:  up 65%  

"Hiring technicians and machine operators in the Bay Area is always difficult, and it became even harder during the pandemic. Meanwhile, a new generation of rentable robots had made the costs feasible for facilities like ours to make a measured entry into automation," said Joe Montano, President and CEO of Delphon, a customer of A3 member Rapid Robotics. "By hiring robots to operate machines for pad printing and component cleaning, we were able to redeploy eight operators to other jobs and see a $70,000 return on investment in less than a year."

Q4 sales and value explained

October through December of 2021 marked the highest and second-highest quarter on record for units and revenue, respectively. Non-automotive customers ordered 6,618 robots in Q4, which represents 61% of total units ordered. Automotive-related customers purchased 4,211 units, 39% of total orders. The following non-automotive industries in Q4 saw increases over the same quarter in 2020:

  • Metals:  Up 23%  
  • Food and Consumer Goods: Up 14%  
  • Semi and Electronics/Photonics:  Up 12%  
  • Plastics and Rubber: Down 25%  
  • All Other Industries:  Up 74%  

Learn more at Automate, June 6-9, in Detroit; Registration open

Registration for Automate 2022, North America’s leading automation trade show and conference,  is open at https://www.automateshow.com. The event, scheduled for June 6-9 In Detroit, hosts the industry’s leading manufacturers and system integrators in robotics, machine vision, motion control, artificial intelligence and smart automation.   

About Association for Advancing Automation (A3)

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) is the leading global advocate for the benefits of automating. A3 promotes automation technologies and ideas that transform the way business is done. Members of A3 represent nearly 1,100 automation manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, academic institutions, research groups and consulting firms from throughout the world that drive automation forward.

A3 hosts a number of industry-leading events, including Automate Preview Series (Ongoing), A3 Business Forum (January 31-February 2, 2022, in Orlando, FL), the Automate Show & Conference (June 6-9, 2022, in Detroit, MI), The Autonomous Mobile Robot & Logistics Week (October 10-13, 2022, in Boston, MA) and The Vision Show (October 11-13, 2022, in Boston, MA).


For More Information
Jackie Rose
Association for Advancing Automation
(734) 929-3264

Kelly Wanlass
HCI Marketing and Communications,  Inc.
(801) 602-4723