China becomes world’s largest robot market

BEIJING, June 17 (PNA/Xinhua) — China bought one fifth of the world’s industrial robot output in 2013, overtaking Japan as the biggest buyer of such technology, new data showed on Tuesday.

Some 36,860 industrial robots were sold in the Chinese market last year, up 36 percent on an annual basis, according to data released by the China Robot Industry Alliance (CRIA).

Some 9,597 units came from domestic producers, while the rest of the market, around 73 percent, was gripped by foreign robot makers, the CRIA said.

China’s industrial robot sector has witnessed booming development over the past decade, with sales revenue growing by around 25 percent each year.

Wang Ruixiang, president of the China Machinery Industry Federation, attributed the rapid increase to the country’s diverse manufacturing sector creating huge demand.

Industrial robots have been widely applied in 25 major sectors in China, including food, chemicals, electronics and automobiles.

At the end of 2013, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology unveiled a guideline to advance the sector.

Wang considers the robot sector a main gauge of a country’s progress in innovation and its development of the high-end equipment industry, and one which is pivotal to China’s resolution to restructure its manufacturing.

His words were echoed by Song Xiaogang, president of the CRIA, who said the application of industrial robots will offset rising labor costs and lack of skilled workers, one of the major problems plaguing China.

The country is managing an industrial restructuring as part of its overall economic reform, shifting from thin-profit labor-intensive industries to high-tech emerging sectors with high added value.

However, challenges remain for the country’s robot drive, as Song cited the need to enhance domestic producers’ technology, nurture enterprises with global competitiveness and improve talent reserves.

He also called for orderly development of the sector amid the rapid advance in a bid to avoid overcapacity and cut-throat competition. (PNA/Xinhua)