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China's robot industry needs to be guarded against falling into the "Red Sea"

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According to the latest forecast of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the number of global industrial robot sales will nearly double in 2018 and the number will reach 400,000. China is expected to become the fastest growing industry market.

Behind the development of many domestic auto industry in the foreground, it is the industrial proposition of “how to rise in the trough”. Only in this way can the domestic robot industry avoid the low-end competition pattern like the “photovoltaic industry”. Otherwise, the "robot era" of China's manufacturing industry will not be discussed.

Robot entering life

Zhao Yong’s office has models of various robots. His "new darling" is a two-armed industrial robot. The left and right arms of the robot can determine their respective azimuth, altitude and speed during the movement. This is not surprising to humans who are used to "shaving their arms." In the eyes of Zhao Yong, it represents the "newest achievement of industrial civilization."

The definition of "robot" can be divided into three categories: "industrial robot", "service robot" and "special robot". The "unmanned aerial vehicles" that are commonly used for aerial photography are now in the broad category of "special robots".

Zhao Yong, former marketing manager of intelligent automation equipment sales, switched to the information exchange service of the robot industry and is currently responsible for the operation of the Chinese robot network.

He said that industrial robots have been closely related to people's lives, but they are more likely to appear on the production side of the product, such as car assembly lines, beverage packaging, chocolate cutting, and bagging injection. .

If there is no such industrial robot in the manufacturing industry, what kind of situation will people face?

The Shanghai Robotics Industrial Park in Baoshan District, Shanghai is an industrial park with a theme of robotics in Shanghai. Li Wei, deputy general manager of the industrial park, used this hypothesis to outline the significance of robots for “traditional industrial transformation”: robots have significantly improved the safety, consistency and industrial efficiency of products in the production process, which is beneficial to reduce material damage. Keep the quality of the product.

In the field of robotics, greater value may come from respect for people.

“Who would like to work in high temperature, full of dust, spray forging and cutting, which will produce toxic and harmful gases, even in the environment of metal dust, and can last up to 24 hours?” Shanghai Xinshida (002527.SZ) Zhou Xiaopeng, director of the robot products division of Robotics Co., Ltd., believes that "robot" is the best candidate. Its "inner logic" is that people's economic living standards have improved, and they have the desire to improve their work and living environment. When you are willing to do so, you will be responsible for the work of “dirty, chaotic, poor” and “high risk factor”.

Some of the phenomena that are happening have supported the “ambition” of the industrial robot industry: in the manufacturing-intensive provinces of Guangdong and Zhejiang, the age structure of workers engaged in production is becoming too large, and even young workers are not recruited. Does this mean that the “golden period” of the development of the robot industry is coming?

Labor shortages trigger the “golden period” of the industry?

With the rhythm of strong rhythm, two orange robot arms with a positioning accuracy of only 0.01 mm merged together. This is the cooperation scene between two tag robots in the production workshop of Leibo Technology. Deng Qiuwei, deputy general manager of Leibo Technology, called it “the kiss of the century”.

Leibo Technology (002577.SZ) was originally engaged in R&D and sales of computer peripheral products. The number of employees in the company once reached 3,200, but the company's manufacturing director Cha Daisong found that “it is difficult to recruit people, and one year is better than one year.”

According to data released by the China Human Resources Market Information Center, starting from 2010, China's labor market has entered an era of greater demand than supply. Especially in the field of industrial workers' demand, the demand ratio of China's skilled talents has reached 1.45 times, which means that the shortage of labor for skilled workers has become very prominent.

Dr. Kong Xiangzhan, a researcher at the Institute of Robotics at Beijing Institute of Technology, analyzed the adjustment of industrial structure: “China’s per capita GDP has reached more than 6,000 US dollars. At this stage, people’s needs have become complicated, and young people are no longer willing. Entering labor-intensive companies to work, this is determined by the stage of economic development."

During the adjustment process, Leibai Technology purchased 75 lightweight industrial robots at one time, and the number of production line employees was reduced to 600.

But the "machine substitution" work is not smooth sailing. According to relevant information, Foxconn's machine substitution plan has been implemented since the chairman of the board of directors Guo Taiming in 2006. The robot “assembler” cannot completely replace the smart hands.

The industry insiders believe that with the gradual weakening of the demographic dividend and the arrival of an aging society, new industries such as robots will also be born.

"Traditional view of the manufacturing industry is likely to form a certain concept of 'stagnation', and fewer people are engaged in heavy manual labor. This may be a crisis in the manufacturing industry, but it reflects the progress of society." Xu Peng said.

Confidence in the industry is more likely to come from the political signals of the transformation of the manufacturing industry.

At the 3rd meeting of the 12th National People's Congress, Premier Li Keqiang proposed the "Made in China 2025 Plan" to promote the industrial structure to high-end manufacturing, with the aim of making China a manufacturing power.

This transformation, which was based on Industry 4.0, was hailed as the fourth industrial revolution, and a boom in the development of the robot manufacturing industry began.

Kong Xiangzhan told reporters, "If China Manufacturing 2025 is implemented smoothly, you may see that there may be only a few workers on the production line of the labor-intensive factory. Moreover, the precision and product quality of robot processing will be more than one piece manually by workers. Processing is more reliable. According to industrial planning, China's self-owned brand robots and key components industrialization capabilities, industrial robots and service robots application demonstrations and robotic test verification and standard system construction are expected to be significantly strengthened, and the smart equipment industry will gain development of."

Therefore, from the perspective of “improving people's work value” and “traditional manufacturing transformation”, respondents' views on the industry are almost identical, and they are expanding a “sunrise industry”.

The question is, who is this "sunrise industry"?

Transformation of construction companies

Shandong Hanzi Wang Xu Plain is a book-teacher. His starting point is a construction company engaged in steel structure. Since 2007, Wang Xuping has been conscious of the downturn in the construction industry and is seeking to transform. The direction is the manufacture of intelligent automation equipment, so the Maihe robot was established.

Wang Xuping said that the move was not "head-heating" because he firmly believed that manufacturing powerhouses could not do without highly intelligent and automated manufacturing equipment. He set the direction for the future development of the company and established a world-class industrial robot manufacturing enterprise.

However, in the scientific research process, robots involve materials, control, communication, design, optics, mathematics, simulation and other disciplines, as well as precision manufacturing, machining, model design and other industries, "disciplinary cross" is dense, to some extent the state One of the symbols of industrial comprehensive strength.

Talking about the way to realize the idea, Wang Xuping's shortcut is to "excavate the right talents from foreign robot companies." He said that a team of more than 300 people is working in the company.

Zhao Yongjun, the company's deputy general manager, expressed concern about the issue of “introducing talents”. Technical talents can only introduce foreign counterparts at most, that is, excellent foreign robot companies have developed the next generation products and introduced higher-level industries. robot. This means that we are hard to surpass.

The desire of domestic robots to accelerate their speed development may come from the growing domestic market. After China became the world's largest demand market in 2013, it continued to grow at double-digit growth, reaching 40% in 2014. According to industry estimates, even in the domestic manufacturing industry, the growth rate in 2015 may reach 30%. about.

According to incomplete statistics, there are currently about 4,000 companies related to the three major types of robotics industry in China. In the view of the investment community who is paying close attention to the development of the industry, this figure should eliminate the low-end “interest-type manufacturers” that do not have the ability to produce and research. The number should be reduced to about 800, and the real market expansion capability. There are only about 400.

From a macro perspective, what is the level of production and R&D capabilities of domestic industrial robots?

Statistics produced by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) in 2014 showed that the number of domestic manufacturers involved in industrial robots was 16,000 units, and the corresponding output of foreign companies reached 40,000 units, accounting for more than 70% of China's total domestic sales. .

Among them, foreign-funded industrial robot companies occupy more than 80% of China's market, while Switzerland's ABB, Japan's FANUC, Japan's Yaskawa, and Germany's KUKA are considered by the industry to be the products of the "four world-famous manufacturers of industrial robots". About 70% of them.

Even compared to most existing manufacturing industries, the domestic robot manufacturing industry is not currently a high-yield industry. Since the price system of industrial robots is relatively transparent, the average price is about 200,000 to 300,000 yuan. Therefore, the industry has carried out such calculations, the sales volume of domestic industrial robots can reach 6,000 units this year, and according to the price of 300,000 yuan per unit, the output value is only about 18 billion yuan.

According to statistics from the industry, the pure body of domestic industrial robots has reached a scale of 10 billion yuan. If the industry's general integrated supporting industry scale is three times the pure body output value, the total industry scale can form an annual output value of 40 billion yuan.

The Galaxy Securities Industry Analysis Report pointed out that the robot density refers to the number of robots per 10,000 industrial workers, with an average of 62 in the world and only 30 in China. Wang Weiming, deputy director of the Industrial Equipment Department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, once said that by 2020, the density of robots in China should reach 100 or more, and the development space of industrial robots is huge. It is estimated that the demand for industrial robots in China will be 50,000 units, 69,000 units and 97,000 units in 2014~2016, with a compound growth rate of 40%. By 2016, the global sales volume of industrial robots in China will reach 40%.

From 2014 to 2016, the market size of China's industrial robots was 12 billion yuan, 16 billion yuan and 21.5 billion yuan respectively, with a compound growth rate of 35%. The integrated market scale was 24 billion yuan, 32 billion yuan and 43.5 billion yuan respectively. 35%.

"However, there are many industries with a scale of 10 billion in production value in Shanghai, and it is not the current large-capacity industry in the country." Li Wei said, but they even faced fierce competition from foreign counterparts when they were born.

“That is to say, well-known foreign manufacturers occupy the mainstream position in the market.” Li Wei said that there are only five or six home-based echelons for robot production, and the domestic production of industrial robots should not exceed 10,000. station.

From a more demanding industry point of view, an "embarrassing" status quo is that more than 80% of domestic manufacturers are "simply splicing" online, and "price online is fierce."

Avoid the "simple patchwork" mode

An industry insider who asked not to be named believes that the “simple patchwork” model adopts the complete importation of foreign parts by manufacturers and then assembles them in China. Although it lacks research and development capabilities, it can still be introduced to the market.

Due to the lack of “core technology” and “core competence” in the production of core components, in the eyes of investors in the robot industry, it is necessary to be alert to the emergence of “all imported parts + self-assembly” mode in the development of the industry. The industry believes that this is partly because the core competitiveness of domestic industry development has not yet fully formed.

"For example, using Beckhoff's controller, selecting Yaskawa's servo motor and Nabo's reducer, plus Cognex's visual perception system and other components, the whole assembly into an industrial robot." The person pointed out that although it looks very Good, but lack of core competitiveness, this development model is not long. And because of the lack of in-depth research on robots, the same configuration, these manufacturers integrated robots can not achieve the corresponding performance of ABB or FANUC.

The person has found that the performance and price of the existing domestic industrial robots are about 80% of the same type of products abroad, but there are still plenty of space for foreign manufacturers in terms of actual cost control and market profitability.

The signs of progress are that from the industrial robot body to the core components such as reducers, drive control devices, etc., due to the intervention of domestic manufacturers, it is also changing the mode of asking prices from foreign manufacturers.

"If the speed reducer as the core component has been reduced from the original 20,000 to several thousand yuan, the price of the control card in the motion control system has a similar decline." Li Yukai, vice president of Digital Venture Capital, said that domestic A technology company independently developed a laser radar for positioning navigation systems, which is also used in NASA's moon landing vehicles. Originally, the price of foreign manufacturers was more than 30,000. Due to the emergence of related products, several foreign-invested companies have reduced their prices to less than 10,000.

As a stage participating project of the National Science and Technology SMEs Venture Capital Guidance Fund, Digital Venture Capital obtained the largest tens of millions of funds from Shanghai to support the development of related industries from the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2014. Among them, the robot industry is the industry sector that they are focusing on, and this year they have invested nearly 100 million yuan.

In the industry comparison, the industry found that in the downstream production chain of industrial robots, namely, system integration, the gross profit level of domestic manufacturers is about 30%, and that of ontology robots is 40%. The gross profit level of several domestic robot listed companies is also around 30%.

"Because the robot itself needs a lot of R&D investment, once the gross profit margin is lower than 30%, the industry ecology will face a survival dilemma." Li Yukai said that foreign manufacturers seem to make "dead weapons" in the market competition.

He said that not long ago, a well-known foreign manufacturer had reduced the price of a 6-axis industrial robot from 400,000 to less than 200,000 yuan. In comparison, the 6-axis robot of the same specification, the domestic enterprise production cost is at least 150,000, and may even reach 200,000 yuan.

As a result, domestic manufacturers that do not have an advantage from the beginning will face more intense competition. But on the contrary, due to the rise of domestic robot manufacturers, foreign manufacturers are forced to lower prices.

"In the high-tech enterprises that invest in several yuan, only 10% of them can enter the scope of investment judgment of investors." Li Yukai said.

This is still because most domestic producers lack “core production technology” and “core research and development capabilities”.

Manufacturing crisis: it is not easy to overcome the body and parts

The current industrial robot industry chain can be roughly divided into upstream key components, midstream system integration and downstream applications. A single industrial robot system consists of three major systems: control system, servo system, and transmission system. Among them, the RV reducer in the transmission system is like the joint of the robot, which accounts for about 1/3 of the cost of a robot. In the design requirements, it must have a short drive chain, small size, and high power.

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