ANN ARBOR, MI-North American robotics suppliers have had their best start since 1999. The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) reported first quarter gains of 48 percent in robot units.

A total of 3,500 robots valued at $219.5 million were ordered by North American manufacturing companies, with another 132 robots valued at $11.4 million ordered from North American robot suppliers by manufacturing companies located outside North America.

The RIA numbers reflect strong gains in applications such as spot welding, arc welding, assembly, coating and dispensing, material handling and material removal.