Industrial Robot Orders In North America Drop By 30% In 2023


After two years of growth, industrial robot orders in North America experienced a significant decline, with a 30% drop in 2023. According to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), only 31,159 industrial robots were purchased by North American companies in 2023, down from 44,196 in the previous year. This decline also reflects a decrease from 2021’s 39,708 orders.

Key Takeaway

The industrial robot orders in North America witnessed a significant 30% drop in 2023, reflecting the impact of macro-economic conditions, manufacturing challenges, and the varied demand across different industries. Despite the decline, there are positive signs for the future as industries continue to recognize the potential of automation in addressing their specific needs.

Factors Contributing to the Decline

  • Impact of the Pandemic: The pandemic had initially led to a surge in automation, but the subsequent economic challenges and uncertainties have affected the demand for industrial robots.
  • Macro-Economic Headwinds: The industrial robotics industry is not immune to the broader economic conditions. The high upfront costs of industrial robots have led to a shift towards considering robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) rental models.
  • Challenges in Manufacturing: The chip shortage and economic struggles have led to a postponement of new car purchases, impacting automotive manufacturing, which accounts for over half of the total industrial robot orders.

Diverse Impact Across Industries

While automotive manufacturing robots saw a 34% drop in orders, non-automotive sectors such as metal electronics manufacturing, food/consumer, medical, and plastics/rubber also experienced a decline, albeit slightly less at 25%. These numbers reflect the varied impact of economic conditions on different industries.

Outlook and Future Prospects

Despite the decline, there are signs of optimism. A3 president Jeff Burnstein highlighted that the year ended with an increase in sales over the previous quarter and a nearly equal number of sales from automotive and non-automotive companies. This suggests a growing comfort with automation across industries. Burnstein also expressed confidence in the potential for increased orders from non-automotive industries as they recognize the benefits of robotics in overcoming their unique challenges.

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