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Robot makers bullish over China’s market

By Richard Fu | November 6, 2013, Wednesday

Visitors try an entertainment robot displayed by Germany’s KUKA at the China International Industry Fair in Shanghai yesterday. — Zhang Suoqing

Global robot makers such as Germany’s KUKA are bullish on the opportunities for automation in China’s manufacturing and are using this year’s China International Industry Fair in Shanghai to tap the potential in supplying robots.

“We’re very upbeat about the potential for automation in China’s manufacturing sector,” Kong Bing, China head of German industrial robot maker KUKA, said in an interview at the fair, which opened yesterday. He cited China’s low robot density of robots used.

According to the International Federation of Robotics, highly automated countries like Japan, South Korea and Germany use between 270 and 400 industrial robots per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry while China uses only 20.

But ironically China is the biggest market by the total number of robots installed. In 2012, IFR estimated that between 28,000 and 35,000 robots were installed, including supplies by Chinese companies.

Kong said KUKA will start making robots at a new plant in Shanghai by year’s end to boost supply in China. He declined to give figures, saying capacity will grow gradually at the plant.

Swiss automation group ABB displayed its IRB 6700 family, the next generation of its large industrial robots that can reduce energy consumption by 15 percent compared with previous generations, at the fair.

“China is now in the critical stage of evolving from traditional to smart manufacturing,” said Chun-yuan Gu, head of Discrete Automation and Motion, ABB North Asia and China.

He added that ABB’s robotic sales in China are growing faster than the 15 percent average of other foreign robot makers in the country.
From Shanghai daily
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