By Liu Jin
Along with the economy restructuring and the introduction of the strategy "Made in China 2025", China's robot industry has entered into the fast lane. Statistics show that in 2015, 68 thousand units of industrial robot have been sold in Chinese market, which has exceeded the European market and become the world's largest industrial robot market for 3 successive years.
Song Xiaogang, executive chairman and secretary general of China Robot Industry Alliance, pointed out that China has a lot of advantages in the development of the robot industry. Domestic robot companies are more familiar with the characteristics of various segments of China's manufacturing industry, while developing the intelligent manufacturing and promoting the industrial transformation and upgrading is the only way of China's manufacturing enterprises. It will bring huge market demands.
More and more industry highlights
According to the statistics from CRIA, the sales volume of domestic industrial robot continues to increase in 2016. In the first half of the year, the cumulative sales volume was 19,257 units, a growth of 37.7 percent over the previous year calculated in comparable terms with the growth rate up 10.2 percentage points compared with the same period last year; considering the factors such as putting into production of the R&D enterprises in the early and the new enterprises entering into the industry, the actual sales volume has grown by 70.8 percent over the previous year. The industry has kept a high growth rate for many consecutive years and is now in a rising channel.
From the perspective of enterprise level, more than 60 percent of domestic industrial robot manufacturing enterprises have seen growth on sales compared with the same period of last year, especially some leading enterprises which have shown gratifying situation on development. Enterprises have actively responded to the opportunity of the users' industrial transformation and upgrading, actively adjusted the product structure and improve product quality, making the sales volume doubled.
From the perspective of mechanical structure level, in the first half of 2016, domestic coordinate robot has maintained its leading position and the sales accelerated. At the same time of the proportion of multi-joint robot went up, that of cylindrical coordinate robot and parallel robot decreased. The product structure of the domestic robot is changing.
From the perspective of application fields, in the first half of 2016, the distribution of domestic industrial robots in the application fields was basically as the same as last year. Among them, the handling and loading and unloading robot used for metal casting is a new highlight of this year. More and more foundry enterprises use robots for material loading and unloading. The market demand has expanded and the sales volume in the first half has grown nearly 8 times year-on-year.
From the perspective of application industry, the domestic industrial robots are widely used in 37 primary industrial categories and 91 second industrial categories of the national economy, indicating a wider application field compared with the previous year. In particular, the proportion of 3C manufacturing industry has increased by nearly 20 percentage points than the same period of last year. From the perspective of product flow, in the first half of 2016, 43 percent of the domestic industrial robots were sold in East China and 10 percent in Southern China.
"Over the past 3 years, China is the world's largest robot market and the same trend is expected to continue this year." Qu Daokui predicted that "in the next 10 years China will maintain the position of international leader."
Seizing market opportunities
This year, China's robot industry has maintained the momentum of rapid development. From January to October, the output of industrial robot reached 56,604 units, an increase of 71.5 percent than that of last whole year.
Coupled with the rapid development and huge market, there exist a series of challenges in the development of the robot industry. Li Chunjiang, director of certification supervision department of Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People's Republic of China (CNCA), pointed out that on the whole, the sales volume of foreign robot accounts for nearly 70 percent of the robot market in China, only about 30 percent of the market is given to domestic robot.
Sun Feng, deputy director of the MIIT equipment industry division, concerns: firstly, although there has been breakthrough on the key parts of the robot, the dependence degree of importing high-end products is still high; secondly, although some independent brands has been close to the world advanced level, the ability of independent innovation still need to be strengthened; thirdly, although the robot industry all over the country has developed rapidly, there exist worries on the low level and repeated construction; fourthly, although the local leading enterprises are rising, the situation of small, scattered and weak has not changed; fifthly, although the third party testing institutions have established, the robot detection standards and certification system are remains to be perfect.
Cai Ronghua, deputy director of NDRS Industrial Coordination Department, said, "in recent years, the NDRS is engaging solving some bottleneck problems facing the development of the robot industry based on the industrialization of key technology and the market environment planning. Next, NDRS will closely follow the new trend of the development of the robot industry and coordinate firstly the mode of tackling the problems from the viewpoint of coordinated development of the industry to solve the bottleneck problem faster that is constraining the industrial development".
In addition, the "intelligent robot" special planning, a national key R&D program during the "13th Five-Year Plan" period, is expected eagerly by the industry. Zhao Jie, director of the Robot Institute, Harbin Institute of Technology, said, "the entire special funds of RMB 6 billion yuan includes the central government plans investment RMB 2 billion yuan and the matching funds from the local government and enterprises. In the ‘13th Five-Year Plan' period, the special investment on robot development is as 4 times as that invested by the Ministry of Science in the ‘12th Five-Year Plan' period, that is, only the investment in one year in the ‘13th Five-Year Plan' period is equivalent to the total investment in the ‘12th Five-Year Plan' period.
Enhancing industrial competitiveness
"Standard level shows the technology level of a country and plays an important role for the improvement of enterprises' competitiveness and the promotion of the healthy development of the industry." Song Xiaogang said, "Since its establishment, CRIA has been promoting steadily the standardization of the industry and striving to create a healthy market environment for enterprises".
"Now there are 17 standards in the preparation and 3 of them have been relatively mature," said Song Xiaogang. In addition, except the sweeping robot and aerial robot, household robots including entertainment and education robot or nursing robot have not entered into the stage of industrialization, thus no corresponding standard is needed to be formulated.
Song Xiaogang said that China has attached great importance to the standard preparation. The CRIA will release two other documents: first is the national robot standard white paper, the second is the framework of information standard system.