A3: Robot orders down 30 percent in 2023 

Feb. 15, 2024
Slow economy, big earlier investments help account for the decline.

Record robot sales posted in 2021 and 2022 in North America took a tumble in 2023, dropping 30 percent according to the latest report from the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). Companies purchased 31,159 robots in 2023, compared to 44,196 in 2022 and 39,708 in 2021. These 2023 orders were divided almost equally between automotive (15,723 robots) and non-automotive companies (15,436 robots), a 34 percent drop in sales to automotive OEMs and automotive suppliers over 2022 and a 25 percent decrease in all other industries. 

“While robot sales naturally ebb and flow, the return to more typical robot sales after the last two record years can likely be attributed to a few obvious issues: a slow U.S. economy, higher interest rates and even the over-purchasing of robots in 2022 from supply chain concerns,” A3 President Jeff Burnstein said. “We’ve seen a slowdown in the manufacturing of electronic vehicles this year along with fewer new distribution centers, both likely reducing the demand for robots. From what we’re hearing in our member surveys and at recent events, however, optimism is strong for growth, potentially picking up in the second half of the year. In fact, we anticipate record numbers at our Automate Show in May as more companies prepare for new automation projects.” 

In 2023, the strongest demand for robots from non-automotive companies came from the metal industry, followed by industries related to semiconductors and electronics/photonics; food and consumer goods; life sciences, pharmaceutical and biomedical products; plastics and rubber, and other goods. 

While each of these industries showed an overall decline compared to 2022, the last three months of the year saw higher sales in a variety of categories, including the automotive industry (by both OEMs and components makers), as well as the metal; semiconductor and electronics/photonics; plastics and rubber sectors; and All Other Industries category, resulting in an increase of 20 percent over the third quarter of 2023. The All Other Industries category includes companies in areas where robot adoption has been slower, such as construction, hospitality and agriculture.