No slow­down in China’s ro­bot­ics in­dus­try

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By SHI JING in Shang­hai

shi­jing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Even though China’s econ­omy is cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a “slow land­ing”, the Chi­nese ro­bot­ics in­dus­try has in con­trast seen healthy growth.

Sta­tis­tics pro­vided by the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Ro­bot­ics show that out of the 250,000 in­dus­trial robots sold last year, 57,000 of them were sold in China, out­num­ber­ing all the other mar­kets in the world.

About 40,000 of these ma­chines sold in China were im­ported goods, and the fig­ure was up 47 per­cent year-on-year. The rest of the 17,000 robots sold were made by do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers, up 77 per­cent year-on-year.

While the automotive in­dus­try was the first to be­gin us­ing in­dus­trial robots in its pro­duc­tion process, the elec­tron­ics sec­tor is now the most pro­lific, ac­count­ing for the lion’s share of 39 per­cent last year in China. Me­tal pro­cess­ing was the sec­ond largest with a mar­ket share of 20 per­cent while the automotive sec­tor was ranked third with 15 per­cent.

In another in­di­ca­tion of the ro­botic in­dus­try’s growth, the fourth edi­tion of the China In­ter­na­tional Ro­bot Show was held in Shang­hai on July 11. This is the fourth con­sec­u­tive year the event has been or­ga­nized. The num­ber of par­tic­i­pat­ing com­pa­nies had grown from 216 to 300 while the ex­hi­bi­tion area was also ex­panded from 16,000 square me­ters to 26,000 sq m this time round.

The event was also a mag­net for over­seas in­dus­try lead­ers as com­pa­nies such as Co­mau, Staubli, Yaskawa Elec­tric and Adept Tech­nolo­gies flocked to Shang­hai to show­case their latest ma­chines. Dur­ing the event, Cal­i­for­nia-based Adept Tech­nol­ogy Inc un­veiled a new ro­bot used for high-speed pack­ag­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, as well as their latest mo­bile ro­bot ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Ac­cord­ing to Terry Han­non, chief busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and strat­egy of­fi­cer at Adept, their robots can boost qual­ity and through­put, stream­line the trans­porta­tion of ma­te­ri­als and lower op­er­a­tional costs.

There was also a stronger pres­ence at the event this year by do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Guangzhou-based GSK CNC Equip­ment Co Ltd and Shenyang Si­a­sun Ro­bot & Au­to­ma­tion Co Ltd.

Shenyang Si­a­sun had com­pleted its smart assem­bly line for robots last Septem­ber. The assem­bly line was the first of its kind in China and can pro­duce 5,000 in­dus­trial robots an­nu­ally.

Qu Daokui, the pres­i­dent of Shenyang Si­a­sun, points to smart man­u­fac­tur­ing as the key to cre­at­ing fu­ture growth in the in­dus­try, say­ing that the pil­lars for the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of the US man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try and Europe’s on­go­ing in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion plans — ti­tled In­dus­try 4.0 — are robots.

“Chi­nese ro­bot man­u­fac­tur­ers should note that key in­dus­trial robots with higher tech­ni­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties used for weld­ing, as­sem­bling and automotive man­u­fac­tur­ing are still mostly im­ported from de­vel­oped mar­kets,” said Qu.

“So even though lo­cal com­pa­nies have been buoyed by the rapid de­vel­op­ment of the Chi­nese ro­bot­ics in­dus­try, there is still a huge gap that needs to be bridged,” he added.

While Song Xiao­gang, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of China Ro­bot In­dus­try Al­liance, shares the same sen­ti­ment as Qu, he be­lieves that China’s ro­bot­ics man­u­fac­tur­ers can achieve a break­through within the next five years.

“We have con­trib­uted to the ro­bot­ics part for the ‘Made in China 2025’ strat­egy. For the Chi­nese ro­bot­ics in­dus­try to de­velop fur­ther, the in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion abil­ity of the robots must be im­proved to meet the mar­ket de­mand. The new gen­er­a­tion of robots should be rolled out quicker in or­der to meet the de­mand of in­dus­try up­grad­ing,” said Song.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

Some par­tic­i­pants of the China In­ter­na­tional Ro­bot Show held in Shang­hai last week be­lieve that China’s ro­bot­ics man­u­fac­tur­ers can achieve a break­through within the next five years.

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