North American-based robotics companies posted new order gains of 34 percent in the first half of 2003, according to figures by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA). A total of 7,005 robots valued at U.S. $446.2 million were ordered by North American manufacturing companies through June 2003. An additional 211 robots valued at $19.5 million were ordered from North American robotics suppliers by manufacturing companies located outside of North America, said the association. The combined totals of 7,216 robots valued at $465.7 million represent gains of 34 percent in units and 15 percent in dollars over the first half of 2002.
RIA reported strong gains in robots ordered for spot welding and material handling applications. While the automotive industry remains the largest customer for robotics, RIA reported increasing demand for robots in industries such as food and beverages, consumer goods, life sciences, and plastics.
According to Donald A. Vincent, executive vice president of RIA, the robotics industry is focusing more attention than ever on new markets for robotics. "The recent slowdown in capital equipment spending, particularly in heavy manufacturing industries, has necessitated a stronger effort to find new markets for robotics," Mr. Vincent said. "At RIA, we’ve developed new initiatives to reach small and medium sized companies in particular that have never used robotics."
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