In a first, most North American robots past year did not go to automotive plants

By Timothy Aeppel

a truck is parked in front of a building: Starship Technologies food delivery robot is seen at University of Wisconsin-Madison

© Reuters/BING GUAN
Starship Systems food stuff delivery robot is witnessed at University of Wisconsin-Madison

(Reuters) – For the 1st time final yr, most of the robots purchased by providers in North The usa weren’t destined for automotive factories.


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The change is element of a very long-term development of automation spreading into a lot more corners of the overall economy which was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. On-line vendors have scrambled to develop potential as much more people get goods on the net, while food stuff and other types of factories have viewed automation as a instrument to keep traces running and personnel securely separated.

Shipments of robots rose to 31,044 in 2020, a 3.5% boost about the prior calendar year, with 52% likely to crops that make items these as client goods and pharmaceuticals, in accordance to knowledge compiled by field team the Affiliation for Advancing Automation.

The orders had been valued at $1.57 billion in total.

Orders by daily life sciences, pharmaceutical and biomedical organizations rose 69% last calendar year, the group claimed, whilst demand from food and purchaser items corporations grew by 56%.

“There is certainly unquestionably been an upturn in distinct locations since of the pandemic,” reported Alex Shikany, the group’s vice president of membership and small business intelligence. “The worth proposition of automation is usually efficiency, but with a pandemic it really is also a way to place employees out and to run factories 24 hrs a day devoid of disruptions.”

The robot marketplace, like most manufacturers, was strike tough through the pandemic as world wide provide chains floor to a halt and businesses closed. But enterprise snapped back again later on in the calendar year. Robotic shipments in the fourth quarter ended up the second optimum in historical past, up virtually 64% from the calendar year-ago period of time, the report mentioned.

The auto market, a blend of assembly crops and parts suppliers, has extended dominated the industry for robots, even though the level of demand can fluctuate depending on how many automakers are retooling for new designs. Automotive accounted for two-thirds of robotic shipments in 2017.

But other sectors have due to the fact been catching up, reflecting the progress of less costly and a lot more flexible robots that are useful in extra industries as properly as rising force to automate work opportunities in what was, right until the pandemic, a limited labor sector.

(Reporting by Timothy Aeppel modifying by Richard Pullin)

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