Market overview

China: Market development of industrial robot

| Author / Editor: Liu Heng / Franziska Breunig

Statistics on the import volume (sets) of industrial robots in different countries and regions in 2016
Statistics on the import volume (sets) of industrial robots in different countries and regions in 2016 (Source: www.robot-china.com)

During the "13th Five-Year Plan", robot is one of the key development objects. Compared with the service robots and commercial robots which are in the exploration period in China, industrial robots have certain development foundation and are entering the overall popularization stage currently.

New installed capacity and inventory of global industrial robot market

In 2016, the sales volume of the global industrial robots is up to 280,000 sets. It is estimated that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2017 to 2022 will be up to 11.92%. By 2017, the total sales volume of the global industrial robots will be up to more than 300,000 sets (as shown in figure 1), wherein most market demands comes from small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries. Since the application of industrial robots can reduce labor cost, improvement the product quality and production efficiency and strengthen the health safety of working place, the market will keep rapid development, and it is estimated that the global industrial robot market will be up to USD 79,780,000,000 in 2022.

The inventory of global industrial robot obtains rapid development in recent years (see figure 2). In 2015, the inventory of global industrial robots was 1,664,000 sets, with the year-on-year gFrowth of 12.37%. In 2016, the market inventory was 1,856,100 sets, with the year-on-year growth of 11.4%. Moreover, China ranks first with the inventory (345,000 sets) of global industrial robots, and the first ten countries and regions of the inventory are: Japan, America, Korea, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, Thailand, Spanish, France and British.

Take the Japan market as the example, according to the data released by the Japan Robots Industry Association recently, the output value of industrial robots in Japan in 2016 (including the member enterprises and non-member enterprises) is up to 703,387,000,000 yen, with the year-on-year growth of 3.3%. Though the output value only stays at the slight increase degree due to the influence of higher yen quotation, it breaks through 700,000,000,000 yen under the America economic expansion, manufacturing industry regression and rising automation investment in China after 9 years, the target output value in 2017 is 750,000,000,000 yen, and it is estimated to reach the highest level for 11 years.

Meanwhile, the output of Japan robots in 2016 was 174,606 sets, with the year-on-year growth of 13.5% and refreshed the highest record, and the output value and output realize continuous positive growth for 3 years and maintain the high level. The total shipment value of Japan robots in 2016 was 716,022,000,000 yen, with the year-on-year growth of 4.8%. In Japan, except the performance of automobile industry remains firm, the robots for display panel and semiconductor tend to recover. Moreover, the preferential tax policy also pushes up the overall shipment; with regard to the overseas, the business facing the U.S. is also brilliant in performance, and the business facing China and Europe also realize recovery. The factory of market growth includes: The equipment investment is enlarged in the whole world. In addition, the previous emerging market economics with more labor intensive industries have more requirements for robots as the countermeasures for the manpower shortage. Japan Robots Industrial Association thinks that this tendency will continue in 2017, the output value will refresh the highest record, and the previous highest record is 730,300,000,000 yen created in 2006.

Technical feature trend of industrial robots

According to the robot products pushed out in recent years, the technology of industrial robots are being researched and developed toward fuzzy control, intelligence, universalization, standardization, modularization, high precision, networking and self-improvement/repair ability. The main development trend is: modularization and reconfiguration of structure Openness, PC and networking of control technology digitalization and modularization of servo driving technology; functionalization of multi-sensor fusion technology; the optimization of working environment design and operation flexibility and system networking and intelligence.

(1) Fuzzy control and intelligence. Fuzzy control is the control method that utilizes the basic idea and theory of fuzzy mathematics. For complicated system, it is hard to describe the system dynamic state correctly through traditional control model due to many variables, so that these control problems can be solved with fuzzy mathematics. The characteristic of future robots lies in its higher intelligence. With the constant development of computer technology, fuzzy control technology, expert system technology, artificial neural network technology and intelligence engineering technology, the operational capability of industrial robots will achieve breakthrough improvement and development.

(2) Universalization, standardization and modularization. The realization of universalization, standardization and modularization through module and component of industrial robots is one of the important channels to reduce the cost.

(3) High precision. With the higher requirement of manufacturing industry for the robots, the development of high-precision industrial robots is the necessary development result.

(4) Networking. At present, most of robots can realize the simple network communication and control, so how to make the robots to develop from individual system to population system and realize remote operation monitoring, maintenance and remote control is one of the hot spot of robot research.

(5) Self-improvement and repair ability. The robots shall have self-repair ability so as to better avoid production suspension due to emergency situation. When there is false command, the robot shall be able to alarm or debug by own; repair by own when the elements are damaged.

New development of industrial robots market in China

In 2015, the newly-increased installation amount of industrial robots in China was up to 67,000 sets, with the year-on-year growth of 17.54%. The installation amount in 2016 was 85,000 sets, with the year-on-year growth of 27%. It is estimated that the sales volume of industrial robots in China in 2017 will be up to 102,000 sets, the compound annual growth rate of the industry in next five years (2017-2021) will be about 19.8%, and the sales volume of industrial robots in China in 2021 will be up to 210,000 sets (figure 3).

During the "13th-Year Plan", robot is one of the key development objects. Compared with the service robots and commercial robots which are in the exploration period in China, industrial robots have certain development foundation and are entering the overall popularization stage currently. It is estimated that the output of industrial robots in China by the end of 2020 will be up to 115,000 sets (figure 4). Chinese own robots are emerging. In 2014, the sales volume of the industrial robots with self-owned brand was up to 17,000 sets, increased by 78% compared with that of last year. In 2015, the sales volume of the industrial robots with self-owned brand was 22,257 sets, with the year-on-year growth of 31.3%. However, the localization rate of industrial robots is still low while growing at a high speed, and most market shares are still held in the foreign-funded enterprises. Meanwhile, we shall pay high attention to the three risks of the industrial core parts of domestic robots such as hollowing, deterioration of application and peripherization of mainstream market.

From 2011 to 2014, the number of the imported industrial robots in China showed a rising trend in general. In 2014, the number of imported robots in China increased by over 50%. However, the number of imported robots declined by nearly 30% in 2015. In 2016, the import volume of industrial robots grew slightly, and export volume of domestic robots increased continuously. Japan is the first major import source of the Chinese industrial robots over the years. In 2015, 68% of the imported industrial robots come from Japan, and the number was up to 36,000 sets. In 2016, the import proportion from Japan accounts for 76% of the total import volume (figure 5). The export area of Chinese industrial robots is mainly concentrated in the Pearl River Delta (Guangdong) and the Yangtze River Delta (Shanghai and Jiangsu).

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