Robot maker eyes ex­pan­sion

Kuka AG plans to pro­duce and sell half of its robot prod­ucts in China

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By WANG YING in Shang­hai wang_y­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Kuka AG, a Ger­man in­dus­trial robot man­u­fac­turer now owned by ap­pli­ance maker Midea Group, aims to make China its fastest-grow­ing mar­ket world­wide, with half of its ro­bots pro­duced and sold in the coun­try by 2020.

Andy Wen, CEO of Kuka Ro­bot­ics China, the lo­cal arm, said such a pro­jec­tion is based on the fact that be­tween 35 per­cent and 38 per­cent of Kuka’s global robot sales rev­enue was gen­er­ated in China in 2016, and the com­pany’s goal is to raise the fig­ure to 50 to 55 per­cent by 2020.

“In the com­ing decade, we will see un­prece­dented op­por­tu­ni­ties in two in­dus­tries in China, which are semi­con­duc­tor and ro­bot­ics,” said Wen.

He also ex­pected the “Made in China 2025” strat­egy to ac­cel­er­ate the in­dus­trial up­grade process, and help find so­lu­tions to con­cerns like ag­ing pop­u­la­tion and la­bor short­age, cre­at­ing new growth pos­si­bil­i­ties for robot mak­ers like Kuka.

“China is go­ing through the process from ‘made in China’ to ‘in­tel­li­gent man­u­fac­tur­ing in China’, and will fi­nally en­ter the phase of ‘cre­ated in China’. Dur­ing the process, Kuka needs more ef­forts to in­crease its lo­cal­iza­tion ra­tio,” said Wen, adding that the lo­cal­iza­tion will fo­cus on R&D, sales, af­ter­sales ser­vice and apps.

In the sec­ond quar­ter of 2018, Kuka will launch a new fac­tory in Songjiang district of Shang­hai. By then, Kuka’s man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity in China will be dou­bled to 20,000 units per year, ac­cord­ing to Ste­fan Lampa, CEO of Kuka Roboter GmbH, the par­ent com­pany of Kuka Ro­bot­ics China.

“Kuka’s China goal can­not be re­al­ized without sup­port from Midea, in­clud­ing busi­ness ex­pan­sion di­rec­tion and pro­duc­tion strat­egy tai­lored for the China mar­ket,” said Wen.

Midea an­nounced last De­cem­ber that it is tak­ing over Kuka. It said the bid will pro­mote robot and au­to­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in China and world­wide.

A to­tal of 88,992 in­dus­trial ro­bots were sold in China in 2016, rep­re­sent­ing nearly 27 per­cent year-on-year growth. Do­mes­tic sup­pli­ers in­stalled 29,144 units of them, up al­most 31 per­cent from that of 2015, ac­cord­ing to the China Robot In­dus­try Al­liance.

China has an­nounced plans to achieve an an­nual out­put of more than 100,000 in­dus­trial ro­bots by 2020.

LONG WEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

Ro­bots made by Ger­man man­u­fac­turer Kuka AG play per­cus­sion at an ex­hi­bi­tion in Shang­hai.

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