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2021 set a new record for number of robots sold in North America with 39,708 units, according the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). Those sales were valued at $2 billion.
Robot sales rose 28% from 2020 to 2021, jumping from 31,044 units in 2020. Fifty-eight percent of those orders came from outside of the automotive industry, a trend that began in 2020 when non-automotive sales surpassed automotive sales for the first time. Traditionally, automotive sales have been the backbone of the robotics industry.
Non-automotive sales saw the biggest growth in metals, which grew 91% from 2020 to 2021, and food and consumer good, which grew 29% in the same period.
“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,” Jeff Burnstein, president of A3, said. “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.”
The industry was set to break robot sales records after the first nine months of the year, and Q4 did not disappoint. Q4 of 2021 was the highest quarter on record for units sold, with 10,829 robots ordered. 61% of units ordered came from non-automotive customers.
“Improvements in technology, new financing models and simpler applications continue to be positive trend lines leading into 2022, in particular helping small companies automate and join the global stage,” Burnstein said.
It should be noted A3 only collects sales data on traditional industrial robots. It doesn’t collect data about autonomous mobile robots or collaborative robotic arms. If A3 recorded sales for these types of robots, too, sales numbers would be even higher.