Ro­bots have bright fu­ture in workplace

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By HE DAN hedan@chi­

China is ex­pected to over­take Ja­pan as the world’s largest user of ro­bots next year as they be­come more af­ford­able for man­u­fac­tur­ers in the face of the coun­try’s in­creas­ing la­bor costs, a se­nior of­fi­cial from the ro­bot in­dus­try al­liance said on Thurs­day.

Qu Daokui, chair­man of the China Ro­bot In­dus­try Al­liance, said the price of in­dus­trial ro­bots has dropped 50 per­cent over the past five years and will keep go­ing down 4 per­cent a year, while work­ers’ salaries in China keep ris­ing, tempt­ing many com­pa­nies to re­place hu­man la­bor with ro­bots.

China’s will have a de­mand for 35,000 ro­bots in 2015, ac­count­ing for about 17 per­cent of the world’s sales, Qu said, quot­ing the Frankfurt-based In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Ro­bot­ics.

The mar­ket price for an in­dus­trial ro­bot ranges from about 200,000 ($32,000) to 30,000 yuan, he said.

“Al­though big State-owned en­ter­prises are still our ma­jor clients, or­ders from small and medium-sized en­ter­prises are in­creas­ing rapidly as ro­bots are be­com­ing af­ford­able for them,” said Qu, who is also pres­i­dent of Si­a­sun Ro­bot and Au­to­ma­tion.

Qu made the com­ments at a fo­rum on new in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion and in­tel­li­gent man­u­fac­tur­ing held in Bei­jing on Thurs­day by four or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of For­eign Ex­perts Af­fairs and the Chi­nese Me­chan­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing So­ci­ety.

The fo­rum was a part of the Sino-Amer­i­can Tech­nol­ogy and En­gi­neer­ing Con­fer­ence held ev­ery two years in­volv­ing en­gi­neers and ex­perts from the United States and China who try to solve press­ing is­sues in tech­nol­ogy and en­gi­neer­ing via field study and dis­cus­sion.

In­dus­trial ro­bots have been adopted in var­i­ous sec­tors in­clud­ing au­to­mo­bile and home ap­pli­ance man­u­fac­tur­ing and en­ergy.

The Yingli Green En­ergy Hold­ing Co, head­quar­tered in Baod­ing, He­bei prov­ince, has been us­ing ma­chines and ro­botic hands to re­place work­ers since 2006 to im­prove ac­cu­racy and ef­fi­ciency, said Yan Wei, di­rec­tor of the com­pany’s en­ergy equip­ment bureau.

So far, the so­lar panel man­u­fac­turer has in­tro­duced more than 100 such ma­chines.

“We re­couped the cost of the in­vest­ment for ro­bots af­ter three years, and us­ing ro­bots has also helped us to re­duce our work­force by around 500,” he said.

Zhao Jie, ex­ec­u­tive vice-di­rec­tor of the State Key Lab of Ro­bot­ics and Sys­tem at Harbin In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, said re­turn on in­vest­ment is the pri­or­ity for most com­pa­nies that con­sider in­tro­duc­ing ro­bots to their pro­duc­tion lines.

“It now takes about two to five years for a com­pany to re­al­ize an in­vest­ment re­turn by us­ing ro­bots. In 10 years, the pe­riod could be re­duced to one quar­ter, which will lead to ex­plo­sive growth of in­dus­trial ro­bots,” he said. Zheng Jinran con­trib­uted to the story.

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