Inflation and the tight labor market are becoming a win-win for robots.
Orders for workplace robots in the US increased by 40% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022, as companies leverage automation to combat ongoing labor shortages and cut costs as inflation continues to stay close to 40 years.
According to data from the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), around 9,000 robots were sold for a total value of approx. $ 544,000 in the United States during the first quarter, compared to more than 6,400 robots with a total value of approx. $ 346,000 in the same period a year ago.
Across North America, more than 1[ads1]1,500 robots were sold to a value of approx. $ 646 million over the three-month period from January to March, the most ever purchased in a single quarter. The North American figures represent a growth of 28% and 43% in the first quarter of 2021 and 7% and 25% in the fourth quarter of 2021, respectively, the previous best quarter.
Boston Dymanics, one of the leaders in automation, often shows off the work they have done with “Spot”.
A3 represents almost 1,100 automation manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, academic institutions, research teams and consulting firms worldwide.
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The first quarter of 2022 marked the seventh of the last nine quarters where non-car customers ordered more robots than car customers.
Non-car customers across North America ordered a total of 6,122 units during the quarter, compared to 5,476 units ordered by car-related customers. Unit sales to manufacturers of original car equipment increased by 15% from year to year, while orders from car component companies increased by 22% from year to year.
Robot orders increased by 40% from year to year in the metal industry, increased 29% from year to year in the plastics and rubber industry, increased 23% from year to year in the semiconductor, electronics and photonics industry, increased 21% year over year in the food industry. and the consumer goods industry and increased by 14% in life sciences, pharmaceuticals and biomedicine. Meanwhile, all other industries saw robot order growth of 56% from year to year.
“Businesses of all sizes, and more and more small and medium-sized businesses, are implementing robotics and automation because it’s more feasible than ever before,” A3 Vice President of Membership and Business Intelligence Alex Shikany told FOX Business. “There are a number of financing models, new hardware and software and more user-friendly experiences for customers.”
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The data comes as the total number of vacancies in the United States has risen to 11.5 million. The Department of Labor reported that 4.5 million Americans, or about 3% of the workforce, quit their jobs in March. In April, the US economy added a stronger than expected 428,000 jobs outside agriculture.
“The big trend we’re hearing about in terms of workforce in automation right now is that companies can’t find people,” Shikany added. “So many of our members are hiring right now, but are unable to fill the vacancies due to a lack of qualified candidates.”
Inflation has also taken some of the workers’ wage growth, with real average hourly wages falling by 2.6% on an annual basis in April.
The party political congressional budget office estimates that Inflation will remain high in the short term, with the consumer price index expected to reach 4.7% for the whole of 2022. Although it is slightly down from the 6.7% recorded in 2021 – the highest level in four decades – it is still significantly higher than the Federal Reserve wants. Inflation is not expected to fall to the Fed’s preferred level of 2% until 2024, according to the CBO.
In its Future of Jobs report published in October 2020, the World Economic Forum estimated that the time spent on current tasks of humans and machines will be equal by 2025. The WEF predicts that 85 million jobs could be displaced by a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines by 2025, while 97 million new jobs may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms.
Fox Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report