North American robot orders

Robot sales in North America dropped sharply in Q2 2023, falling 37% versus the same period last year per industry group A3. From April-June, companies ordered 7,697 robots valued at $457 million. For the full year so far, orders declined 29% to 16,865 units, reflecting economic challenges.

A3 attributes the robotics slowdown to high interest rates and recession pressures after record sales in 2021-2022. Many companies lack capital to invest despite ongoing hiring struggles where automation could help. A3's Alex Shikany said, "While many continue automating, others just don't have the funds right now, though they remain short on workers for dull, dirty and dangerous jobs."

Both 2021 and 2022 represented banner years in North American robotics. 2022 orders grew 11% over 2021 to 44,196 robots following multiple record quarters. But purchases began declining in Q3 2022, even while exceeding 2021's figures.

In Q2 2023, non-automotive industries ordered 52% of units versus 48% for automotive OEMs and suppliers. Both dropped versus last year. The strongest demand came from semiconductor/electronics, life sciences/pharma, plastics/rubber, and metals. Automotive components, food/consumer goods, and automotive OEMs posted the largest declines.

The current economic climate indicates robot investments may remain depressed near-term. However, automation constitutes a long-term strategy for competitiveness and productivity. As macro conditions eventually improve, robot adoption will likely resume strong growth.

Trends like persistent hiring struggles, offshoring, and reshoring will continue driving automation. While slowed for now, robots' value proposition remains compelling.

Also noteworthy - A3's data only covers traditional industrial robots, excluding emerging autonomous mobile robots and collaborative arms. Including these categories would show higher industry sales.

In summary, today's economic factors have temporarily suppressed robot orders after years of expansion. But fundamental labor challenges and automation's benefits persist. This suggests the latest slowdown does not negate robots' immense growth potential once conditions normalize.

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