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China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

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.

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