Inside IT
Hello! I’m a Robot from China

On June 9, 2014, in a speech to academicians of Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the President Xi Jinping stressed the robot industry. He said, “Our technology and manufacturing are facing the competition that China will become the largest robot market. We should not only improve robot technology, but also try to occupy the market as much as possible. We should consider the overall situation, play a close attention to plan and make practical progress, because lots of other new technologies are waiting us. This is the first time that China’s top leaders made a special speech on the robot field publicly, which has pointed out the development direction of China’s robot industry.

Robot Stylish , Shanghai city Background

President Xi Jinping attaches great importance to the robotic development, because it is generally believed by international public opinion and people in the relevant industries that “Robot Revolution” is expected to become a starting point as well as a significant growth point for the “third industrial revolution”, which will have an impact on the global manufacturing pattern. The International Federation of Robot predicted that “Robot Revolution” will create a market of multibillion dollars. The research, development, manufacturing and application in robot industry is an important standard to measure a country’s level in scientific and technological innovation as well as in high-end manufacturing industry. Although, China’s total economic output ranks second in the world, the industrialization degree seriously lags behind its own international economic status. To take a very short period of time to fully realize industrialization which has taken hundreds of years in developed countries, China has to invest massively in high-tech industries and high-end manufacturing industries. Therefore, it can complete a “twist-channel overtaking process”. In May 2015, China’s State Council officially released a plan called “Made in China 2025”, which symbolizes China’s revolutionary investment and promotion in its manufacturing sectors. It also means that robot industry – the core of the modern manufacturing industry, will be surely made one of key development orientation of China’s manufacturing industry.

This is because that, on the one hand, the Chinese government is willing to give policy support; on the one hand, with the increase of its global demands, the national robot market has become the world’s largest potential one for robot consumers and the sales volume has set historical records for three consecutive years. The International Federation of Robot predicts that the annual growth rate of robots in China will be 26% from 2016 to 2017, twice as high as the global level. And by the end of 2018, there will be 610,000 robots being equipped in Chinese factories, accounting for a quarter of the global amount.

Facing the huge market, China’s domestic manufacturers are competing to make plans in robot industry. According to data from the Chinese robot industry alliance, China has built and was building more than 40 national industry parks. The latest data from Robotics Industry Research Center showed that the sales volume of industrial robots in China reached 77, 500 units in 2015, accounting for 35.9% in the total market and having been ranked the world’s largest industrial robot market for three consecutive years. This makes robotics industry popular and has attracted a growing number of capital influxes. Data from China’s domestic market survey showed that financing transactions related to robots in 2015 reached 83, almost twice as high as that in 2014 with 45 cases. And the investment increased to 115%.

robotic arms in a car plant

However, China’s robot industry development encounters lots of problems with its expansion. Firstly, Chinese robot industries in the large domestic market only take a small market share. For example, in 2015, the total output value of the domestic robot market is 10.9 billion yuan, the foreign and domestic shares of which take 85% (RMB 9.25 billion) and 15% (RMB1.65 billion) respectively. It is obvious that for the domestic robot industry, it is weak in innovation and has a relatively small capacity, resulting in a poor competitiveness and becoming a bottleneck for the development. Secondly, there is a serious lack of core components and core technologies for the domestic robot industry. Internationally, China’s competitiveness is still to be improved. Among seven to eight hundred national robot companies, only about ten have core technology. But many of them stress on sales and performance, instead of basic research and development work, resulting in a remained gap between their overall development and that of Japanese, the United States and European companies. While China’s domestic robot companies are busy in competing for the pure market share and ignores the basic work, foreign robot manufacturers are making massive investments in China. ABB, KUKA, FANUC, Yaskawa and other international leading robotics enterprises are significantly accelerating to set up factories or expand their affiliated factories in China. They are entering Chinese market in succession to compete for thousands of, or even trillions of RMB in Chinese robot market. Facing the situation, few Chinese companies can really contend against them.

The Chinese government and the industry have a clearer awareness of this, because senior officials of the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said that the robot industry in China is developing toward a mode of “promoting low-end products from high-end industries” and there is no need to worry about surplus investment. Indeed, China’s robot industry is ushering in a good development period when government is offering more policy supports. However, with the preliminary accomplishment of Chinese enterprises’ intelligent transformation, demand for robot will increase slowly, and industry ranks will be reshuffled. Lots of robot companies will be eliminated if they still make no breakthrough and innovation in key technologies and core parts.


你好 我是来自中国的机器人

2014年6月9日,中国国家主席习近平在面向中国科学院和中国工程院院士们的一次讲话中重点提到了机器人产业。他说,中国将成为机器人的最大市场,但我们的技术和制造能力能不能应对这场竞争?我们不仅要把我国机器人水平提高上去,而且要尽可能多地占领市场。这样的新技术新领域还很多,我们要审时度势、全盘考虑、抓紧谋划、扎实推进。这是中国最高领导人第一次在公开场合专门就机器人领域发表的讲话,也为中国机器人产业发展指明了方向。

习近平主席如此重视机器人领域的发展,是因为国际舆论和相关产业界普遍认为,“机器人革命”有望成为“第三次工业革命”的一个切入点和重要增长点,将影响全球制造业格局。国际机器人联合会预测,“机器人革命”将创造数万亿美元的市场。机器人产业的研发、制造、应用是衡量一个国家科技创新和高端制造业水平的重要标志。中国目前的经济总量排名世界第二,但实际工业化水平与自身国际经济地位严重不匹配。发达国家在数百年内完成的工业化进程,中国要用非常短的时间内走完。这就需要中国在高科技产业和高端制造业进行大规模投入,以完成一个“弯道超车”的过程。2015年5月,中国国务院正式发布《中国制造2025》,这一计划的提出标志着中国在制造业领域要进行革命性的投入和推动,机器人产业作为现代制造业的核心组成部分,当仁不让地成为中国制造业重点发展方向之一。

一方面得益于中国政府给予的政策支持,一方面随着全球市场需要的增加,中国国内机器人市场成为全球潜力最大的机器人消费市场,销量已经连续三年创历史新高。国际机器人联盟预测,2016年至2017年中国机器人年均增长率达26%,是全球水平的两倍,到2018年年底,中国各地工厂内将配置的工业机器人数量将达61万台,占全球数量的四分之一。

面对巨大市场前景,中国国内厂商争相布局机器人产业。据中国机器人产业联盟数据表明,过去两年,中国国内建成和在建机器人产业园区超过40个。机器人行业研究中心最新数据显示,2015年中国市场工业机器人的销量达到7.75万台,占总体市场的35.9%,连续三年成为全球最大的工业机器人市场。机器人产业的火热,也吸引了越来越多的资本涌入。中国国内市场调查数据显示,2015年机器人领域融资交易共83宗,和2014年45宗相比几乎翻一番;同时,投资额增长115%。

但随着市场的不断扩大,中国机器人产业发展也相应地出现了很多问题。一是市场虽大,中国企业所占份额却并不大。2015年国内机器人市场总产值109亿元人民币,其中国外机器人的份额达85%,产值达到92.5亿元人民币;国产机器人的份额为15%,产值约为16.5亿元人民币。由此不难看出,国内机器人产业创新弱、产业相对小、竞争能力差,成为中国机器人产业的发展“瓶颈”。二是国内机器人核心零部件和核心技术严重缺失。中国机器人产业在国际市场的竞争力上依然有待提高,国内七八百家机器人企业中拥有核心技术的企业却仅有十来家。很多机器人企业重销售、重业绩,但是不重视基础研发工作,导致整体行业发展依然无法缩小与日本和欧美的差距。而就在中国国内机器人企业忙于争夺表面市场份额,顾不上基础工作的时候,外资机器人厂商却已经在中国国内进行大规模投资。目前,ABB、库卡、发那科、安川等国际机器人龙头企业明显加快在中国设立或扩大直属工厂的步伐。而面对当前国际大牌纷纷加入争食人民币数千亿元甚至数万亿元的中国机器人市场,很少中国本土企业能真正与之抗衡。

就此,中国政府和产业界也已经有了比较清醒的认识。中国工业和信息化部高层官员曾表示,当前中国机器人产业已出现“高端产业低端化”的趋势,并有投资过剩的隐忧。目前中国机器人产业确实迎来了好的发展机遇,政府扶持政策也很多,但随着中国企业智能化改造的初步完成,机器人应用市场需求增速将放缓,行业内会出现洗牌现象。很多机器人企业如果不在关键技术和核心零部件方面有创新和突破,势必会被市场淘汰。

Written by Yan Xue, LG CNS Blog’s Regular Contributor

Yan Xue 2

Post navigation

'Inside IT' Category Post
  • IoT
  • Cloud
  • Big Data
  • Security
  • Data Center
  • e-Government
  • Transportation
  • Energy
  • Manufacturing
  • Finance