• August 31, 2021

Automation boom presents growth opportunities in the United States

Manufacturing as we know it is transforming fundamental technological development, rising labor costs and new applications. According to a forecast by Acumen Research, the global market size for industrial automation is expected to grow by seven percent between 2019 and 2026, with North America expected to see the largest growth. This outlook did not take the economic halt following the spread of COVID-19 into consideration, but experts believe that the pandemic will eventually herald an automation boom. Like many other countries globally, the U.S. is still dealing with the direct and indirect repercussions of the pandemic. With support from Business Sweden, innovative Swedish companies seeking to find new revenue streams can be a part of U.S. industries’ road to recovery.

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The U.S. is one of five countries covering the majority of the industrial robotics market globally, and the sales volume of new industrial robot installations throughout the country, and according to Statista is expected to grow by 25 percent between 2017 and 2021. In 2019, the Robotic Industries Association claimed that the strongest driver for growth in robot orders in North America was a 51 percent increase in orders from automotive manufacturers compared to the year before. The automotive industry has long been a leading industry in adopting automation and increasing complexity in its manufacturing plants, but the industry is far from fully utilising and benefitting from available equipment and technology. The Center for Automotive Research investigated 120 U.S. automotive companies regarding their adoption of new technology to implement automation, and identified that utilising data analytics for manufacturing processes is an area with particularly large potential for improvement.

The rising demand for automatisation within U.S. manufacturing and warehousing presents an excellent opportunity for Swedish companies and expertise.
The U.S. Institute for Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing has identified crucial needs from their member organisations going forward; including versatile robotic systems capable of performing multiple tasks, rapid deployment and re-purposing of robots, collaborative robots, and cost-effective solutions. The pandemic has increased awareness regarding the vulnerability of being dependent on manual labour, and companies are investing in advanced technology in response to the higher manufacturing costs in the U.S. This is expected to result in higher demand for alternatives to human involvement in manufacturing. A recent survey from the industrial sourcing platform Thomas, asked North American manufacturing companies how COVID-19 has impacted their businesses, and the majority of the 746 responding companies indicated that they are likely to invest in automation technology enhancing production performance in the next year.

In addition to the manufacturing industry being a key driver for the ongoing automation boom in the U.S., warehousing and logistics are experiencing a significant push in the automated direction as well. According to a recent survey conducted by Honeywell, a majority of warehouse operators are more likely to invest in automation due to the pandemic – a pattern especially clear for e-commerce companies. With COVID-19 accelerating consumer behaviour towards an increase in the already growing volume of deliveries and packages, the demand for automated processes handling the logistics surrounding them has clearly intensified.

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