China enforces historic Robot Boom
In 2018 China will account for more than one-third of the industrial robots installed worldwide. At this very moment China is engaged on a historically unprecedented effort to catch up in the race towards automation. The latest figures show that sales of industrial robots jumped to around 57,000 units in 2014 – a rise of 56 percent. This is according to the 2015 World Robot Statistics, issued by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). The nation’s robotics industry is benefiting from an additional boost in the form of the Chinese Government’s new competitive offensive, “China Manufacturing 2025”.
“Among this new manufacture, Robotics is playing a very important role. That is – while in recent years the other sectors were increasingly slowing down – the robotics industry is going up fast,” says Song Xiaogang, Secretary General of the China Robot Industry Alliance (CRIA). “In light of the above, the robotics industry is exhibiting rapid growth – completely unperturbed by the current economic fallow period experienced by other areas of Chinese industry.”
Just five years ago the demand for industrial robots in China was almost equivalent to the level seen in the USA (approx. 15,000 units). However, sales in China have nearly quadrupled in the intervening period (2014: 57,000 units), while they have
just about doubled in the USA over the same period (2014: 26,200). According to IFR forecasts the sales figures posted in China are expected to again rise dramatically, totaling around 150,000 units by 2018.
The future potential in the robotics market is also reflected in the hitherto comparatively low penetration of robotics in Chinese manufacturing. This is underlined by a robotic density of just 36 units per 10,000 employees in the production industries. This figures is significantly lower than that of the other TOP 5 robotics markets – led by the global forerunner South Korea with 478 industrial robots per 10,000 employees in 2014, followed by Japan (315 units), Germany (292 units) and the USA (164 units).
“According to recent statistics, China’s robot market is still dominated by the automotive industry,” says Dr Jiegao Wang, Vice General Manager of ESTUN Robotics. “The market share is still relatively large, but with a limited growth rate. Huge market growth potential for industrial robots comes from the general industry. China’s general industries, such as home appliances, 3C, food and feed, rubber and plastics, ceramics, metal products and pharmaceuticals and other manufacturing industries are much larger than the automotive industry. It can be expected that China’s future demand for industrial robots will keep increasing for a long period to come, despite the global economic downturn and the decelerating growth rates of China’s economy.” The modernisation of production in these industrial fields is also the objective of the competitive offensive, “China Manufacturing 2025”. Robotics is one of the ten industrial sectors explicitly named.