Association says robotics sale drops

Per new numbers from the Association for Advancing Automation — whose job it is to track such things — North American robot orders declined a substantial 37 per cent year-over-year for Q2 (April to July).

According to TechCrunch, the figure, which includes a 20 per cent drop in value, was the second consecutive decline. The two quarters combined represented a 29 per cent drop from H1 of 2022. This most recent half saw a total of 16,856 robots. There were a lot of factors at play here.

It reported that 2022 was a record year, with 44,196 orders. It was an 11 per cent jump over the previous record — 2021. The fuller story here was notable regression from record growth, dovetailing with the sort of macroeconomic headwinds that have adversely impacted nearly every industry.

“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,” says A3’s Alex Shikany.

“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.”

Even as an eternal pessimist, I don’t see much cause for panic in these figures. Just as robotic investing was eventually impacted by a slowdown in venture capital, it’s an important reminder that there are few — if any — truly recession-proof industries (depending on how you define the term, I suppose). I’m no economist, but I feel strongly that — taking the long view — we’re dealing with a bump in the road. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who genuinely doesn’t see automation as an inevitability (with all the good and bad it brings).

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