American companies ordered a record 29,000 robots in the first 9 months of this year as they battled the labor shortage, an industry group says

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American companies ordered a record 29,000 robots in the first 9 months of this year as they battled the labor shortage, an industry group says
Servi robot in Sergio's Restaurant Sergio's Restaurant
  • Companies ordered a record number of robots in the first nine months of 2021, per industry group A3.
  • Some businesses are turning to robots to plug gaps in their workforce during the labor shortage.

North American companies ordered a record 29,000 robots in the first nine months of 2021 as they tried to cope with a severe shortage of staff, an industry group said Friday.

The number of orders was 37% higher than for the same nine-month period in 2020, according to data in a press release by Association for Advancing Automation (A3). Sales hit $1.48 billion in the first nine months of this year, up from $1.09 billion for the same period in 2020, A3 said.

"With labor shortages throughout manufacturing, logistics and virtually every industry, companies of all sizes are increasingly turning to robotics and automation to stay productive and competitive," Jeff Burnstein, A3's president, said in the press release.

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Businesses across the US are struggling to hire because of the labor shortage. Workers are quitting their jobs to find better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Some companies have turned to robots for some tasks, such as writing thank-you letters to colleagues and carrying plates from a restaurant kitchen to servers.

This year's robot sales beat the previous record in 2017, when sales hit $1.47 billion, according to A3's data.

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Companies in North America ordered nearly 10,000 robots in the third quarter of this year, up 32% on 2020, with sales amounting to $513 million, a rise of 35%, per A3.

Almost two-thirds of sales in the third quarter of 2021 came from non-automotive industries, including food and consumer groups, A3 said.

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