North America robot orders dropped in the second quarter, marking a downturn exacerbated by a slowing U.S. economy and high interest rates, the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) said Thursday.
The decline—37% fewer robots were purchased in April through June of 2023 than during the same period last year—follows record purchases in 2021 and 2022, Ann Arbor, Michigan-based A3 said. In raw numbers, North American companies ordered 7,697 robots valued at $457 million from April to July 2023.
When combined with first quarter results, the robotics market in North America is down 29% compared to the first half of last year with a total of 16,865 robots ordered. This drop comes after a record 2022, where North American companies ordered 44,196 robots, up 11% over 2021, the previous record.
“Over the last five years, we’ve seen a steady acceleration of robot orders as all industries have struggled with a labor shortage and more non-automotive companies recognize the tremendous value automation provides,” Alex Shikany, A3’s vice president of membership and business intelligence, said in a release. “After this post-COVID surge, however, we’re seeing a drawback in purchases, exacerbated by the slow economy and high interest rates. While many companies continue to automate, others just don’t have the capital to invest right now, despite their struggle to find workers willing to do many of the dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs that remain unfilled.”