"We're encouraged by the fact that nearly as many robots have been ordered through three quarters of 2003 as were ordered in the entire year of 2002," said Donald A. Vincent, executive vice president of the RIA. Indications are that manufacturers that had been postponing new investments have begun purchasing capital equipment.

Automotive manufacturers and suppliers remain the largest purchasers of robotic equipment. Material handling is still the largest application area, followed by spot and arc welding, coating and dispensing, assembly, and material removal.

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