No one was prepared for the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, including businesses large and small. For the better part of 2020 and early 2021, uncertainty was prevalent across manufacturing and industrial sectors, but there now appear to be reasons for optimism. Recent market data released by trade group A3, also known as Association for Advancing Automation points to strong investments in robotic and automated equipment.


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In North America, industrial robotics sales have increased 20 percent over the first quarter of 2021. The bulk of this increase comes from nonautomotive companies, with metals, life sciences, pharmaceuticals, and bio-med, food, and consumer goods sectors making the most significant investments.

Reasons For More Robotic Solutions

Nonautomotive sectors have led automation and robotics orders for the second year in a row, and despite the pandemic, pointing to a consistent shift towards more robots and automated systems used in production capacities and on factory floors. Long-time labor shortages have been no small contributor, and with Covid-19 slowing or completely halting hiring, training, and other essential practices, more companies are looking for technology-based solutions to drive growth and fill labor gaps. Although the automotive sector hasn’t been as great a contributor to growth robotics and automation as it has in the past, more than half of all robotics orders come from this sector.

Opportunities For Innovators

These investments are furthering others. Industrial robotics stocks have shown solid growth and are outperforming the overall market. Additionally, more industrial robotics and automated tech companies are on the cusp of going public and joining this rapidly growing market. The specific technologies that have gathered the greatest demands include artificial intelligence, computer vision, and robotics that are able to grip and manipulate objects. For companies that can provide and innovate on these capabilities, there are a lot of opportunities.

Tugger AGV towing multiple trailers in a warehouse environment. Credit: AGVExpertJS

Has your industry begun to shift toward more automation and robotics capabilities? Comment and share your experience.


For nearly five decades, the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), AIA-Advancing Vision + Imaging (AIA), and the Motion Control and Motors Association (MCMA), along with A3 Mexico, have played a key role in helping automation technologies become among the most critical tools of the 21st Century. As these technologies have converged, our association has had a convergence of its own. We are now the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), one trade group for the entire automation ecosystem.

A3 is North America’s largest automation trade association representing more than 1,100 organizations involved in robotics, artificial intelligence, machine vision & imaging, motion control & motors and related automation technologies.

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