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China still leads the world in robotic machinery market


Automation is taking China by storm. First, the country hoovered up many of the world's manufacturing jobs, and now it is, in turn, outsourcing that work to robots (机器人).


Since 2013, China has topped the list as the world’s biggest market for robotic machinery. That appetite is not subsiding. The country’s sales for the machines surged 54% last year compared to the year prior, which cites statistics from the International Federation of Robotics. Next year, China is poised to have installed more robotic machines than any other country, the paper reports.


By 2017, the IFR expects the number of robots in operation to double to 400,000 from today’s 200,000. North America, on the other hand, will grow to have about 300,000.


The automotive and electronics industries are leading the charge in workforce automation. The Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn, which supplies iPhones for Apple  AAPL -1.92% , for instance, predicts that 70% of its assembly line work will be taken over by robots three years from now. As an IFR document summarizes about the explosive demand for robots worldwide:


“Impetus will mainly come from Asia, particularly from China, and from North America. The automotive industry will continue to be the innovator for new technology. The growing global demand for electronic products, new products, and new production technologies are boosting investments in retooling of existing production processes and expanding production capacities of the electrical/electronics industry particularly in Asia.”


At the moment, China has 30 industrial robots for every 10,000 manufacturing workers—about double what it had in 2013.


“The automation of China’s production plants has just started”, ABB Robotics managing director Per Vegard Nerseth told IFR in January. “As the first foreign robot manufacturer to arrive here, we have observed the market and developments for years now. We have witnessed swift, almost explosive growth over the last two or three years, surpassing even our expectations.”

年1月接受国际机器人协会采访时,ABB Robotics公司执行董事倪思德表示:“中国生产设备的自动化只是刚刚起步。从第一家外国机器人制造商落户这里开始,我们观察了这个市场及其发展好几年时间。过去两三年中,中国机器人使用数量几乎爆炸式的迅速增长,甚至超出了我们的预计。”

Industry watchers are expecting major growth to continue in Asian markets such as China, Korea, and other Southeast Asian countries. As the IFR forecasts, “The potential for robot installations in this market is still tremendous.”



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