Robot suppliers continue capacity expansions in China despite instability, says DIGITIMES Research

Jin Pai, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei 0

Credit: DIGITIMES Asia

China remains the largest manufacturing industry in the world, making its industrial robot market a segment full of potential. Although around 70% of industrial robot suppliers in China are not domestic companies, they continue expanding capacities in the country despite concerns toward China's instability amid geopolitical and trade issues, according to DIGITIMES Research's latest study.

Thanks to the robust demand generated by high population, government policies, and industrial needs, China has seen increasing adoption of industrial robots at factories, while Chinese robot makers are primarily supplying entry-level products for light industrial applications such as electric vehicles, lithium batteries, and solar products.

Industrial robots installed in factories in China accounted for over half of the global overall volumes in 2021 and went up 50.6% from a year ago. However, in terms of robot density, China ranked only the ninth.

Because of the declining labor force in China and the country's keen policies to promote industrial growth as well as the rapid development of EV, lithium battery, and solar photovoltaic system industries in the country, China is one of the key markets with strong growth potential for robotics in the next few years, but unforeseen changes in the global economy, logistics disruption, COVID-19 lockdowns, and geopolitical tensions are all creating uncertainty to China's growth.

China's industrial robot industry is led by international first-tier companies, with Chinese brands together accounting for around 30%. The top-4 non-Chinese robot suppliers are Fanuc, ABB, Yaskawa, and KUKA, which together contribute around 40% of China's robot supply. The four companies have all recently expanded their capacities in China.

China-made robots are mostly entry-level and low-cost products that feature low-precision movement. Since batteries and solar panels do not have high demand for robots' movement precision and EV assembly lines also have a low need for high-end processes such as welding and stamping, China-made robots still have a potential for development in China.

The low prices of China-made robots and the short delivery time also made them rather competitive in the aforementioned specific markets.