ANN ARBOR, MI--North American robotics companies have reported a 36 percent decrease in new orders for the first quarter of 2001 vs. the same period last year, according to new statistics released by Robotics Industries Association (RIA).

Orders declined for all major application areas, except for small material handling robots and inspection robots. "Robot manufacturers are. . .experiencing order delays from major customers, as well as slowdowns in orders from prospective customers," says Donald A. Vincent, RIA executive vice president. "Based on feedback from RIA member companies, we expect to see strengthening orders in the second half of 2001."

"Fortunately, the robotics industry has a strong backlog of unfilled orders and is well-positioned to ride out the storm until the economy turns positive again," Vincent asserts. "Even during this downturn, our members are reporting a strong interest in robotics from companies who either currently use or plan to use robots in the future."