Companies in America are adding a high number of robots to their workforce in the first nine months of 2021 as they try to speed up their production because they are struggling to find human workers.
American Companies Gets More Robots This Year
Factories and other industrial companies ordered more than 29,000 robots, 27% more than in 2020. According to the industry group, the Association for Advancing Automation, tech companies’ investment shelled out for robots reached $1.48 billion.
The data surpassed the previous record that was set in the same time period in 2017, before the COVID-19 pandemic affected businesses and upended economies, according to CNN.
The push for investing in robots is just a part of a larger upswing in investment as companies try to keep up with the strong demand for electronics and vehicles.
The sudden rise in demand for products is due to the shortage of certain goods like smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
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At the same time, a lot of companies have struggled to entice workers to go back to work after the pandemic displaced them. According to The Wall Street Journal, companies now view robots as an alternative to humans on their assembly lines.
President of the Association for Advancing Automation, Jeff Burnstein, said that companies consider robots part of the workforce because businesses could not find the right people to do the work.
Robots continue to spread throughout the economy. Including robots and other machines to do the jobs is not new as many automakers had been invested industrial robots in replacing humans.
However, in 2020, the combined sales to other businesses surpassed the auto industry for the first time, which continued this year, according to MSN.
In the first few months of 2021, auto-related orders for robots increased 20%, equivalent to 12,544 units. Meanwhile, the orders by other tech companies for robots increased 53%, equivalent to 16,355.
Burnstein said that automotive is going up and that other sectors, like food and metal manufacturers, are growing even faster.
Athena Manufacturing, owned by John Newman, does metal fabrication for other companies in Austin, Texas. The company now has seven robots in total, including the four robots that were installed earlier this year.
Athena Manufacturing repurchased its first robot in 2016. Newman said that robots have helped his company respond to the increase in demand, including a 50% increase in orders for parts that semiconductor equipment manufacturers use.
The machines also allowed the company to move to a 24/7 operation for the first time in 2020. The company plans to employ 250 workers, but they know they will struggle to do so, especially since it is difficult to fill the overnight shifts.
Since robots are slowly becoming a part of the workforce, researchers are improving their response to commands and interaction with humans and other robots.
Last week, MIT researchers revealed that it is working on a project that will teach robots to be social. This can help human employees work in harmony with the robots, which are known not to have any social skills.
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Written by Sophie Webster
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