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Robots to boost China's economy


08:35, January 06, 2013

China’s rich supply of labor has helped carry the country through more than three decades of rapid economic growth. But as its demographic ages and the demand for skilled labor remains on the rise, more and more industries are turning to robots to replace manual labor. And the increasing market demand for robots is also effecting the robot industry at home and abroad.

In the past, this leading global robot manufacturer focused mostly on making industrial robots for the automobile industry. But now, it’s building up its manufacturing of robots that can be used in other industries, such as food and beverage processing.

Company managers won’t go into detail on the numbers, but they say they’re optimistic that their robot business will grow by at least ten percent next year.

Gu Chunyuan, President of ABB Engineering in Shanghai, said, "We see a continuous demand in the Chinese market. We will continue, of course, further to ramp up our production capability, introduce a few new models and also the new application development, for example, like polishing and assembly for the general industry."

As one of the world’s major manufacturers, China has become the fastest growing robotics market. Many of the country’s major corporation, such as machinery industry leader SANY Group and digital product manufacturer Foxconn, are using robots in large number to replace manual labors.

The November International Industry Fair for the first time displayed robots in a single exhibition hall. Figures from the International Federation of Robotics show installation of multi-role robots in China has risen by 136 percent from 2008 to 2011 and is still growing at double-digit.

Although some two-thirds of the robots are made by foreign manufacturers, the huge market demand has attracted some major domestic machinery companies to join, such as the Shanghai Electric.

Huang Jiamin, Director of Automation department of SE, said, "The biggest challenge is that almost 100 percent of the key robot parts in the market are imported from foreign countries. And our robotic technology is more than a decade behind the world. To catch up, we have to develop the robot parts and equipment from the very beginning."

Industry and government sources tell ICS that over the past three years, local companies and universities have received 40 million yuan of funding for robot research and development, with another 60 million yuan coming this year to further support the local robot industry. In a long run by 2020, the Shanghai government will be making about half the country’s industrial robots, and generate about 80 billion yuan a year from it.

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