Nov 11 (Reuters) – Companies in North America added a record number of robots in the first nine months of this year as they rushed to speed up assembly lines and struggled to add human workers.
Factories and other industrial users ordered 29,000 robots, 37% more than during the same period last year, valued at $1.48 billion, according to data compiled by the industry group the Association for Advancing Automation. That surpassed the previous peak set in the same time period in 2017, before the global pandemic upended economies.
“It’s not that automotive is slowing down – auto is up,” said Burnstein. But other sectors – from metals to food manufacturers – are growing even faster.
John Newman’s company is one of them. Athena Manufacturing, which does metal fabrication for other manufacturers in Austin, Texas, now has seven robots, including four installed this year. It bought its first machine in 2016. Newman said robots have helped Athena respond to a surge in demand, including a 50% jump in orders for parts used by semiconductor equipment manufacturers.
The machines also allowed Athena to move to an around-the-clock operation for the first time last year, he said. The company employs 250 but would have struggled, he said, to find workers to fill unpopular overnight shifts.