Manufacturing News

China market for industrial robots outnumbers all others

Growing interest in the robotics industry was clearly evident at the China International Robot Show which opened in Shanghai on Wednesday.

The fourth annual event saw the number of participating companies rise to nearly 300 from 216 last year. The exhibition area has also been expanded to 26,000 square meters from 16,000.

Industry leaders such as Yaskawa Electric, Comau, Nachi and Staubli showed confidence in the Chinese market by sending their latest models and machines. Domestic manufacturers represented by Guangzhou-based GSK CNC Equipment Co Ltd and Shenyang Siasun Robot & Automation Co Ltd have been catching up in recent years.

With four operation centers and 1,200 employees in China, Italian-originated manufacturer Comau began a localized program last year. The company will continue to invest in China with the hope of reaching an annual capacity of 3,000 machines and 1 billion yuan in annual revenue, said Stefan Sack, CEO of Comau China.

Smaller machines, now widely used in the electronics industry, feature in the display by Japanese manufacturer Nachi. While the automotive industry saw the earliest application of robots, more Chinese electronics manufacturers are using robots on assembly lines to reduce costs and enhance quality, said Hu Xiyun, sales supervisor of Nachi (Shanghai) Co Ltd.

Statistics provided by the International Federation of Robotics show that 57,000 industrial robots were sold in China last year, outnumbering all other world markets. About 40,000 were imported, up 47 percent year-on-year while the remainder were made by domestic manufacturers, up 77 percent year-on-year.

"The three key components of industrial robots are controller, servo motor and precision decelerating motor, which make up 50 to 60 percent of the cost. Even though there is still some gap between Chinese manufacturers and those from the developed markets, huge breakthroughs will be made in the next three to five years," said Song Xiaogang, executive director of the China Robot Industry Alliance, adding that companies such as Nantong Zhenkang Welding Electromechanic Co Ltd and Suzhou Leader Harmonious Drive Systema Co Ltd have performed well in the past few years.

"We have contributed to the robotics part of the ‘Made in China 2025’ strategy. For further development of the Chinese robotics industry industrialization ability should be improved to meet market demand and the new generation of robots should come out more quickly in order to meet the demands of industry upgrading," said Song.

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