Chinese robot makers manufactured more than 100,000 industrial robots in the first 10 months of this year, according to the Communist Chinese government’s propaganda mouthpiece Xinhua.
The unstoppable growth indicates a massive increase in output of 70 per cent compared with the previous year, says Xinhua.
And if the output of the two months of 2017 not yet counted – November and December – were to be included, the total production is likely to surpass 120,000.
Xinhua is quoting statistics fed to it by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The Chinese government has made domestic manufacturing of industrial robotics and automation technologies one of its highest priorities under the so-called “Made in China” programme, launched a couple of years ago.
The market volume of China’s industrial robots is expected to reach $4.2 billion in 2017 and increase to $5.9 billion in 2020, reports Xinhua.
Among the most well known and possibly largest industrial robot makers in China is Siasun, which recently became a member of the US Robotic Industries Association, and HRG.
All of the big, foreign companies – such as Fanuc, ABB, Yaskawa, Kawasaki and many others – are also operating in China, and reporting dramatic increases in sales.
China is currently the world’s largest buyer of industrial robots, but even so, the size of the increases in sales may have surprised some.
Fanuc chairman and CEO Yoshiharu Inaba says the company has had to limit orders because it is operating at full capacity already to deal with current orders. “We can’t take any more,” he says.
Like all the other leading industrial robot makers, Fanuc is increasing its investment and production capacity in China.
Not only will this help those foreign companies increase their sales into China, it may also help them meet the challenge from emerging Chinese industrial robot manufacturers.
One of the key areas of competition going forward is likely to be collaborative robots – industrial robots which are legally deemed safe for working without fences separating them from humans.
In this segment, Universal Robots – owned by US industrial giant Teradyne – is believed to be the market leader.
However, even in this market, Chinese companies are accelerating their developments, with companies such as Han’s Robot unveiling plans to launch a collaborative robot model.
Siasun and probably all the other robot makers are also considering launching collaborative robots.
China’s growing appetite for robots is believed to be driven by the growth of the manufacturing sector, as well as the supposed shortage of human workers in some areas of the country.