The number of industrial robots Chinese branded companies will manufacture by 2020
The exhibition area for robot technologies has been constantly growing, from 7,000 square meters four years ago to 50,000 sqm this year. More than 220 domestic and international exhibitors were in attendance to showcase their latest offerings.
At the booth of domestic robotics company Siasun Robot & Automation Co Ltd, visitors got the opportunity to get up close with China’s first intelligent and flexible sevenaxis light hybrid robot as well as the country’s first two-arm cooperative robot. Tang Guifa, vice-president of Shanghai East Best & Lan Sheng International (Group) Co Ltd, said that the debut of these two robots were a sign that China’s robot manufacturing scene has attained world class standards.
Chinese robot makers manufactured 22,000 units of industrial robots in 2015, up 31.3 percent year-on-year, with domestic sales hitting 68,459 units, up 18 percent year-on-year, said Song Xiaogang, the executive president and general secretary of China Robot Industry Alliance (CRIA).
One of the booths that drew the most attention was by KUKA, the world leading manufacturer of industrial robots, which had programmed robots to put up an engaging drum performance as well as play games with the visitors.
The German company had also debuted its new KR Cybertech robots on the first day of the CIIF. This new series was designed according to the feedback received from Chinese customers regarding the previous version of the product.
“The new version is more powerful and has a longer reach. KUKA is rounding out its portfolio for low payload robots,” said Steven Hua, sales director of KUKA Robotics China Co Ltd, who also added that new series of robots are currently in the pipeline.
Martin Kuhnhen, chief sales officer of KUKA Roboter GmbH, said that the company is aware of China’s ambitions in the robotics industry and will be looking to work with Chinese companies to help bolster their development in foreign markets.
According to the robotics industry development plan issued by the central government in April, Chinese branded companies will manufacture 100,000 units of industrial robots by 2020, national robot density is expected to exceed 150 and more than three robot companies that can be competitive on the global stage will be formed.
SAIC Motor Corp Ltd, the largest listed auto company on China’s A-share market, exhibited its first Internet-connected car under its brand Roewe. The new product features a smart operating system that enables car owners to control it remotely with an independent ID. In addition, the car's air-conditioner, music system and map navigation can be switched on via voice control. SAIC officials said that more than 70,000 orders for this new car have already been placed.
According to SAIC data, the company has sold more than 19,000 new energy vehicles from January to September this year, a year-on-year increase of 128 percent. SAIC also said that it is aiming to boost its efforts in further exploring technology innovation in new energy and intelligent vehicles.
Over at the booth for China’s leading home appliance maker Midea Group Co, visitors could be found giving voice commands to air conditioners, another indication of how Chinese manufacturers have been eager to jump onto the bandwagon for intelligent technology.
In an attempt to mitigate the effects of factors such as labor shortage and higher testing standards, Midea launched a smart manufacturing project in 2012 and invested around 2 billion yuan ($295.65 million) in smart technologies for its two air conditioner plants in Guangzhou of Guangdong province and Wuhan of Hubei province. The company had also reduced its manpower for these two locations from 50,000 people in 2011 to 20,000.
Wu Shoubao, vice general manager of Midea’s air conditioner manufacturing division, said that smart technology has also helped to shorten the delivery cycle from 30 days to just nine days in the two factories.
Wu added that the group will spend between 4 and 5 billion yuan to upgrade the remaining four plants under the air conditioner division into smart manufacturing facilities within the next five years.
Robots play an important role in the process of turning the virtual smart manufacturing concept into reality, said Jesse Chou, spokesperson of Delta Electronics Inc which had exhibited its robot work station solutions during the CIIF. Chou also sought to debunk the notion that the automation drive around the world will render many workers jobless.
“When we talk about smart factories, we’re not saying that people have become redundant and will be replaced by robots. Instead, they are now liberated from labor at assembly lines and will become handlers of machine and equipment,” said Chou.