ANN ARBOR, MI—North American manufacturing companies ordered 10,573 robots valued at $811 million from North American robotics suppliers in 2002. This is an increase of 6 percent in units and 5 percent in revenue from 2001, according to new figures released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA).

When sales to companies outside North America are included, North American robot suppliers saw overall increases of 2 percent in units and revenues.

"We’re encouraged that robot orders rose last year, given the extremely difficult environment for all capital equipment industries," says Donald A. Vincent, executive vice president of RIA. "We hope this means that the worst is behind us, but the continued weakness in the U.S. economy combined with news of the war in Iraq makes it very difficult to know what will happen in 2003.

"No matter what happens in 2003, manufacturing companies can’t delay investments in new equipment indefinitely. To compete in the global market, manufacturers in all industries will eventually increase their investments in productive technologies."

Vincent said that he expects the International Robots & Vision Show in Rosemont, IL, June 3 to 5, 2003, to help spur interest in robotics. "The show, which is held just once every 2 years, gives manufacturing companies a chance to evaluate all of the latest robotics products. More than 5,000 potential buyers from throughout the world are expected to attend, many looking to buy new equipment immediately," he says.