Researchers at the Association for Advancing Automation said North American companies bought a record number of robots in the first nine months of 2021. The devices are replacing live technicians and helping to cope with labor shortages.

According to the Association for Advancing Automation industry group, factories and other industrial companies “hired” 29,000 robots, a 37% increase over the same period last year. The total amount of transactions was $ 1.48 billion, which exceeded the previous record, which was set in the same period in 2017.

Researchers attribute the large-scale introduction of robots to large investments in the industry – they noticed a trend where companies seek to provide high demand for goods, which in some cases led to a shortage of key positions. At the same time, many companies are primarily considering the automation of dozens of positions, rather than looking for the right specialists – they, basically, have become just an addition to robots.

“Businesses just can’t find the people they want – that’s why they’re in a rush to automate production,” says Jeff Bernstein, president of the Association for the Advancement of Automation (USA).

Robots also continue to penetrate new areas of the economy. Automotive companies have been buying most industrial robots for a long time. But in 2020, cumulative sales to other businesses surpassed sales in the auto sector for the first time – a trend that only continues to grow. In the first nine months of 2021, orders for robots for the automotive industry rose 20% to 12,544 units, while orders from non-automotive companies increased 53% to 16,355 units.

“It’s not that the auto industry is slowing down – it’s growing,” says Bernstein. “But other sectors – from metallurgy to food production – are growing even faster.”

The machines have also enabled companies to increase efficiency, he said. Now even small factories are switching to round-the-clock operation, and night shifts are fully automated.