When one thinks about Chinese manufacturing, they typically don’t think of robots–that’s exactly what many in China’s manufacturing sector aim to change.
In a recent article in the English edition of the South China Morning Post, writer Thomas Roemer highlighted key reasons why China manufacturers are more and more interested in using robots to supplement their workforce–and those reasons might surprise you. For instance, although labor costs in China are very low by US standards, they are high compared to closer manufacturing centers like Indonesia and Vietnam–and are continuing to rise at a fast pace.
Another reason is that it’s societal–China’s one-child policy has had a great effect on their economy, not the least of which being a mix of competition among skilled laborers and high turnover rates following Lunar new years as workers move on to the next high-paying job.
An April blog in the Wall Street Journal said that the Chinese economy is experiencing “a perfect storm” that leads to the increased presence of robots in Chinese factories–from increasing labor costs and cheap robot technology, this blogger posits that Chinese factories might have more robots than any other country in the world. The International Federation of Robotics, the foremost robotics organization in the world, said that of the 225,000 robots sold last year, 56,000 were bought by China.
Although China may have more robots than any other country in the world, their massive workforce makes their “robot density” relatively low–there are an estimated 30 robots per 10,000 workers in China, a number which is 10 times higher in Germany and 11 times higher in Japan, according to the IFR.
Called a “brave new world” in a piece in the Telegraph, the future of the China manufacturing sector’s success may just lie with robots.
“By using 60 industrial robots, an assembly line that would have needed about 600 workers in the past now needs just 100,” said Luo Weiqiang, assistant general manager of Guangdong Everwin Precision Technology, which designs, manufactures and sells electronic components.
“Production efficiency has also greatly improved after the introduction of industrial robots,” he said.
All in all, the increased presence of robots in Chinese factories can only mean one thing for US manufacturers–better prices and better quality.
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