Kuka is determined to take advantage of its alliance with Chinese household appliances manufacturing giant Midea to become the largest robot maker in China.
Already one of the largest industrial robot manufacturers in the world, Kuka was taken over by Midea some months ago in a move currently being scrutinised by the European Union, which may change its merges and acquisitions policies as a result.
Such technicalities aside, Kuka is bullish about opportunities in China and has reportedly decided to double its production capacity in the country.
According to ShanghaiDaily.com, Kuka’s Songijiang plant is being upgraded to produce 20,000 robots a year – which is a hundred-per-cent increase from its current annual capacity of 10,000 robots.
The website quotes Andy Wen, CEO of Kuka Robotics in China, who says the factory already produces a large number of robots, but needs to increase production to keep up with demand in the country.
The additional capacity would also help Kuka to compete with global and China market leader Fanuc, and ABB, which also recently said it would double investment in China, and make the country its global robotics research and development centre.
Wen says: “By 2020, we expect that China will take up over 50 percent of our robot sales as we shift more focus to this region, seeing larger potential and more robust growth compared with more mature markets such as Europe.”
Kuka is a German company, and its main operations centre is in Augsberg.
As reported by Handelsblatt.com, Kuka CEO Till Reuter (main picture) is looking to capitalise on the company’s relationship with Midea to expand in two areas in particular.
One is China. “We want to become the top player in the Chinese market for robotics,” Handelsblatt quoted Reuter as saying.
And the second is apparently digital platforms – or industrial internet of things platforms.
Kuka has built an IIoT platform called Connyun, which is in effect a new software business unit for the robot maker.
One of its early partners of Connyun was software giant Infosys, but Kuka has since partnered with other software companies such as SAP.
These IIoT platforms are potentially the drivers of huge growth for industrial companies.
GE Digital, which claims its Predix platform was the first such IIoT platform, is currently earning revenues of $4 billion a year in the sector, and has become one of the largest software companies in the world in the process.
Siemens has a similar platform called MindSphere. So do many others.
Kuka apparently believes this IIoT sector, as well as China, will be the main drivers of its growth going forward.
The company is also looking to expand into personal robotics, or home automation systems, where many different types of robots could be released.