2016 marked a turning point for China’s robotics sector. In that year, total installed robots reached 340,000, overtaking the total installed in the US, and setting China up as the largest market for robots in the world.
China’s declining workforces, rising wages, and fierce competition for profits have pushed manufacturers to rapidly automate their operations.
But there’s still much room for growth because China only has 36 units per 10,000 workers, well behind the global average of 66, and 478 units per 10,000 workers in Korea, and 314 units in Japan5.
And China is seeing a massive increase of investment in robotics manufacturing capacity, with investments from not only domestic producers, but also major international manufacturers like ABB, Yaskawa, and Kawasaki, who are investing heavily in China.
China represents a double dividend for robotics manufacturers.
Firstly, it is a huge sales market that is growing rapidly and with big future growth prospects and, secondly, the market – with the world’s biggest amount of installed robots – is a huge potential source of data on operations that robot manufacturers can use to refine, develop, and improve their products. That is why Siemens has built its HQ for robot development in China.
Putting these factors together, the prospects for China’s development into a leader in robotics are looking very strong indeed, and that’s why industry bodies expect the supply of robotics systems from China to rise from 115,000 in 2017 to 210,000 by 2020, enough to take 40% of the global market6.