The outbreak of the Chinese robot market: a pie or a trap for companies

“Made in China” is facing a transition from labor-intensive to intelligent manufacturing, which has spurred the domestic industrial robot market.

Statistics show that China has become the country that purchases the most industrial robots in the world. However, compared with China’s huge manufacturing base, the utilization level of China’s industrial robots is still very low. According to statistics from the International Federation of Robotics, the number of robots per 10,000 manufacturing workers is 396 in South Korea, 332 in Japan, 273 in Germany, and the world average is 58, while China has only 23.

What is even more worrying is that although there are many domestic industrial robot suppliers, most of the market share is still occupied by foreign companies. How should Chinese local robotics companies seize the opportunity?

99% of manufacturing is still labor

Pennefather Technology, a manufacturer of computer peripherals in Shenzhen, has already tasted the sweetness of robots and has become an active communicator.

According to Deng Qiuwei, general manager of Rapoo Technology, Rapoo introduced 75 robots in 2011 and implemented changes in product design, integration, logistics reorganization, and production scheduling optimization through the robot integration platform. The number of employees in the company was reduced from 3,200 in 2011. 1100 people in 2012.

As the first company to “eat crabs” in its peers, Rapoo Technology Robots saves 80 million yuan in labor costs each year.

In Huizhou, which is adjacent to Shenzhen, local electronics manufacturer Huayang has also “fell in love” with robots. Luo Mingdeng, deputy general manager of Huayang Multimedia Electronics Co., Ltd., said that they have produced more than 1,200 people in the system and encountered the problems of “difficult recruitment, expensive labor, and large loss” in recent years.

The post-90s’ employment decline, the rise of inland industries, and the development of the tertiary industry have made it more and more difficult to recruit workers. The recruitment cost in Huizhou has reached 370 yuan per person; and the post-90s’ employment outlook has changed greatly. Work is not the only one, free talents It is the first choice. The average monthly turnover rate of the general electronics industry is about 16%. The turnover rate of night shifts and standing jobs is even higher. In addition, the post-90s employees are difficult to manage and production efficiency is reduced. Therefore, Huayang Multimedia established a special business department in 2008 to promote automation technology transformation and develop products such as a three-axis robot platform.

Luo Mingdeng said with deep feeling: “The price of robots must drop sharply, otherwise they cannot be promoted.” Deng Qiuwei is more optimistic. He predicts that with the average price of industrial robots falling by 4% every year, and labor costs rising, from 2004 to 2013 , The average annual salary of personnel has risen by 15%, which makes the return period of robot automation investment (input cost/annual return) show a downward trend. It will take 6 years in 2010 and is expected to be shortened to about 2.4 years in 2015.

According to a report in “The Economist” magazine, in 2013 the Chinese market sold 36,500 industrial robots. China has surpassed Japan and became the country that purchases the largest number of industrial robots each year. “Factory owners are now more inclined to use robots that are easy to manage. “.

Zhang Xiaofei, chairman of the Gaogong Robotics Research Institute, revealed to a reporter from China Business News that in the first three quarters of this year, the sales of domestic robots continued to maintain rapid growth. From January to September 2014, the domestic sales of industrial robots reached 33,600 units, a year-on-year increase of 32.5%, and it is expected to reach 45,000 units this year.

Even so, the domestic robot market still has a huge space. Zhang Xiaofei predicts that the output value of China’s intelligent manufacturing equipment industry in 2015 will be 1,000 billion yuan, which will triple in the next five years and will reach 300 billion yuan in 2020.

“Why can’t more than 99.42% of the jobs in China’s manufacturing industry be replaced by robots? When and where?” Qu Daokui, chairman of the China Robot Industry Alliance and president of Siasun Robot Automation Co., Ltd., asked thoughtfully.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are both a problem and a gold mine

Qu Daokui believes that the current high-end applications in low-end industries are the “bottleneck” of China’s industrial robot market expansion.

For example, in the polishing and polishing of bathroom hardware industry, robots require dustproof, waterproof, and explosion-proof, and their complexity is far greater than that of ordinary welding robots. At the same time, the original production methods of this industry are very backward and the market space is very large, but the price Extremely sensitive, how to resolve this contradiction?

Bai Xiaobo, director of the Research Center of Guangzhou Industrial Technology Research Institute, also feels the same. After investigation, he believes that the problems facing the development of robots in the Pearl River Delta are mainly small and medium-sized enterprises.

Bai Xiaobo said that the Pearl River Delta has a large proportion of labor-intensive enterprises, and the demand for robot technology to achieve fewer people and unmanned people is increasingly strong; but the “short, flat, and fast” low-cost operation mode makes long-term investment willingness relatively weak. . At present, there have been a number of companies that have successfully transformed and upgraded. For example, Guangzhou Automobile Group has integrated 138 robots to build a welding production line for auto parts.

However, “small and medium-sized enterprises have strong demands but face many difficulties.” Bai Xiaobo analyzed that the transition from a traditional production model to a modern production model will result in a “hybrid production line” of automation, robots and manual operations, which increases the complexity of robot automation solutions and relatively increases investment costs.

“Enterprises usually require that the cost of workers replaced by automated equipment can be recovered within 2 to 3 years. The actual life of automated production lines and equipment is generally 5 to 8 years or longer.” Bai Xiaobo suggested that managers need to establish new concepts. To adapt to the development of the situation.

When Deng Qiuwei shared Leibo’s experience, he believed that the cost of the robot line (automated production line that uses the robot as the main body) should not be “robot automation investment + traditional work platform”, but “robot body + peripheral equipment-original work” Industry platform investment”. For example, he said that a power adapter manufacturer expanded its production capacity and added a line body. The original plan was to invest 40,000 yuan on a 20-meter-long conveyor belt. Now the input cost of 8 flexible workbenches for the robot automation line body is only 6,000 yuan, which saves 34,000 yuan. Yuan.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are not only a problem, but also a gold mine. Zuo Li, deputy general manager of Leisai Intelligence, believes that the breakthrough for domestic industrial robots is economical robots. For robots with very high precision requirements in the automotive industry, domestic companies cannot compete with foreign companies in the short term.

“Domestic enterprises should focus on the development and application of general manufacturing industries (hardware processing, rubber (10700, -235.00, -2.15%) and plastics (0, -11220.00, -100.00%), ceramics, food and medicine, etc.) outside the automotive industry. -Type robots, such as special loading and unloading manipulators for punching presses, injection molding machines, electronic product assembly (screw, dispensing) robots, grinding and polishing robots, palletizing robots, etc.” Zuo Li said, “will be dirty, tired, dangerous, and dull. Let the robot do the job!”

Zuo Li believes that domestic economical industrial robots are characterized by using less rotary joints, using domestic components as much as possible, and focusing on only one thing, so they are low cost, high efficiency, and easy to control.

Qu Daokui said frankly that industrial robots and robotic arms are robots with the lowest added value, but local companies must do it. This is the need for the transformation and upgrading of China’s manufacturing industry. Zhang Xiaofei pointed out that once China’s local robotics companies can achieve breakthroughs in the robotics field of these traditional industries, they can be extended to other emerging industrial countries such as India. At that time, Chinese robotics companies can also become multinational companies.

Don’t follow the old road of the auto industry

The demand for the Chinese robot market suddenly broke out, Qu Daokui said with emotion: “Is this a pie or a trap? Because the market is developing too fast, all foreign giants have been attracted, and the time left for local companies to grow slowly has become shorter.” He believes that China is the world’s largest auto market, but the local auto industry has not really risen, and the robotics industry must avoid repeating the same mistakes of the auto industry.

According to statistics from the International Federation of Robotics, the total number of industrial robots sold by foreign-funded enterprises in China in 2013 exceeded 27,000, an increase of 20% over the previous year; according to the statistics of the China Robot Industry Alliance, the total number of industrial robots sold by domestic companies in China exceeded 9,500 in 2013 , An increase of 65.5% over 2012.

“It cannot be ignored that Chinese robot companies mainly occupy the low-end market and have low added value.” Qu Daokui reminded that we must avoid the low-end of the high-end industry. In the high-end robot industry, only processing is not meaningful. “All local governments and enterprises should make strategic plans.”

At present, driven by the enthusiasm of the capital market and the support policies of local governments, the domestic robot industry is heating up. There are more than 30 robot industrial parks across the country, and there are more than 40 listed companies with robot concepts in the A-share market. Some companies want to do everything, from robot bodies and parts to system integration solutions. Zhang Xiaofei suggested that in the face of competition from multinational giants, domestic companies “first cut in a subdivision”.

According to the statistics of the Gaogong Robot Industry Research Institute, as of September 2014, there were 428 robot-related companies in China, with an increase of 175 in the first to third quarters of this year. Among the 428 robot companies, 88% are system integrators; from a regional perspective, 117 companies in Guangdong, accounting for 27%, if the companies in Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Shanghai are added together, the number of companies in the Yangtze River Delta exceeds that in the Pearl River Delta.

Zhang Xiaofei said that the products of Chinese robot parts companies are not mature enough and the market acceptance is low; robot ontology companies have small shipments and have not achieved profitability and rely on their main businesses to feed; system integrators, most of which are profitable, but the scale of the company is too small. Small; end users prefer foreign brands, require diversity, and are price sensitive.

“The demand for robots in general industries other than automobiles is growing rapidly. It is estimated that the food and pharmaceutical industries will grow by 45% in 2014; the electronics and electrical appliances industries will grow by 33%; the metal processing industries will grow by 31%.” Zhang Xiaofei said, so we must “find the market. position”.

At the same time, through cross-industry cooperation and cooperation with foreign capital, the technological level will be improved. This year, Yawei shares and Laisi, Jasic Technology and Kawasaki have launched strategic cooperation.

“It is imperative for China to catch up with high-end manufacturing from low-end manufacturing.” Zhang Xiaofei said that the Chinese robot market has become the focus of global competition. The international “four major families” such as ABB and KUKA have not established a firm foothold in China. It has not kept up, which gives local robot companies a lot of space. “Localized parts are the basis for the development of domestic robots. Integration is the best way for the rapid development of domestic robots. Occupying the market is the best competitive strategy.”

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