Companies hire record number of robots amid labor shortage

Requested his ideas on elevating the minimal wage, the previous Carl’s Jr. CEO Andy Puzder once responded that there’s completely no draw back to hiring robots. You may pay them a $0 an hour, and so they’ll by no means complain, at all times try to upsell the client, by no means take a trip, can’t get injured on the job, and gained’t file a sexual-harassment or race discrimination case towards you, he mentioned.

Throughout a historic “Nice Resignation“—the place staff are combating aggressively for larger pay and higher working circumstances—it appears like Puzder’s questionable recommendation has discovered new resonance in America’s boardrooms. North American firms are shopping for robots in record numbers, based on knowledge from the Affiliation for Advancing Automation cited by Reuters. For the reason that begin of 2021, orders have been positioned for about 29,000—or almost $1.5 billion price, an virtually 40% improve from the identical interval final yr, based on the trade group. The second-biggest yr in gross sales was again in 2017, when there was lots of tech innovation however no pandemic roiling the economic system.

The sudden curiosity is undoubtedly tied to AI’s work ethic and expertise. Up to now 20 months, factories throughout the nation have ridden out every kind of disruptions that, have been the workforce 100% nonhuman, wouldn’t have slowed issues down—by social distancing on the manufacturing unit flooring or staging employee walkouts, for example. Tons of present human staff additionally give up throughout that very same interval, and corporations are struggling to search out replacements.


The result’s they’ve doubtless been kicking round grass-is-greener situations the place their factories and warehouses are run by a swarm of machines—although that’s assuming executives can recover from the sticker shock (once more: $1.5 billion for fewer than 30,000 new robo-workers, whereas the U.S.’s most up-to-date jobs report shows 10.4 million open positions nationwide).

Automakers have for many years purchased virtually all of the robots, for apparent causes. However Reuters additionally notes that for the primary time in 2020, mixed gross sales for different sectors leapfrogged the automotive trade’s, and that the hole widened much more in 2021. Auto producers’ robotic orders are up 20% this yr (to 12,544 items), however orders positioned by different kinds of firms grew by 53% (to 16,355 items). This implies carmakers are nonetheless shopping for a record quantity of robots! It’s simply that abruptly everybody else is shopping for a fair crazier number of them.