A lack of sales to both automotive and non-automotive customers has taken a toll on the North American robotics industry, new market data show. Orders for new units declined 30% through the first nine months of 2009, while the decline in dollar terms was 43%, according to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA). Sales to automotive customers, both OEMs and their suppliers, were down 29% in units and 44% in dollars compared with the same period one year ago. The automotive industry historically is the largest purchaser of robots. A total of 7,172 robots valued at $425.8 million have been ordered by North American manufacturing companies through September, compared with 2008 nine-month totals of 10,279 robots valued at $743.4 million, according to RIA figures. RIA president Jeff Burnstein noted that automotive customers traditionally account for more than 60% of new robot orders in North America. Through the first nine months of 2009, automotive customers accounted for 54% of new orders. Non-automotive customers also held back on robot orders, with orders down 32% in units and 41% in dollars. Bright spots in the numbers for robotics manufacturers include orders from life sciences customers, up 14%, and food and consumer goods customers, up 12%.