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The Current Situation and Development Trends of Industrial Robot Technology in China

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In recent years, the development of industrial robots has gradually received attention, and the country has introduced various incentive measures. Local governments are also striving to set development goals, with the core content of achieving independent innovation and accelerating the process of domestic substitution.

At present, China’s industrial robot industry is in the initial stage of industrialization, gradually moving from a development stage to a mature stage.

In the global market, in 2019, China’s industrial robot installation and production both ranked first in the world, but there is still great potential for installation density.

In the future, with the support of emerging technologies such as cloud computing, China’s industrial robots will develop towards greater intelligence and flexibility. At the same time, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has shown many manufacturers the potential for the development of industrial robots in the medical field.

Main listed companies in the industry: Currently, the listed companies in the domestic industrial robot industry mainly include Keda Intelligence (300222), Wodi Intelligence (830843), Industrial Fulian (601138), Yuanda Intelligence (002689), Shanghai Hugong (603131), Eft (688165), ST Brant (430394), ST Huachang (300278), Robotics (300024), Keyuan Intelligence (002380), Huazi Technology (300490), Eston (002747), ST Security (300370), Taihe Intelligence (603656) Zhiyun Shares (300097), Jiashun Intelligence (834863), Julun Intelligence (002031), Lanying Equipment (300293), Boshi Shares (002698), Yawei Shares (002559), Huazhong CNC (300161), Tusda (300607), Juneng Shares (871478), Xinshida (002527), Huibo Shares (871462), Shanggong Shenbei (600843), Zhongyuan Zhiren (833135), Dongjie Intelligence (300486), Saimo Intelligence (300466), Hanyu Group (300403), Sanfeng Intelligence (300276) Jin Aobo (002917), Ruisu Intelligence (839697), Supersonic (833753), Ningwu Technology (837040), Youai Intelligence (836953), Zhongji Experimental (872726), Tianchen Stock (831234), Songxing Electric (836316), Hekeda (002816), Yuhuan CNC (002903), Apollo (832568), Nantong Tongji (834938), Yongchuang Intelligence (603901), Da Yilong (002209), Aishida (002403), Konghui Stock (839418), Angang Software (870738) 30) Petrochemical machinery (000852) Maide Medical (688310), Hagong Intelligence (000584), Huapeng Precision Machinery (838861), Genesis (300083), Linkman (430031), Jialong Technology (832394), Hantang Intelligence (837345), Songqing Intelligence (871868), Tanaka Technology (839224), Tianze Internet of Things (837225), Yuantai Intelligence (839156), Hengli Packaging (871060), Zhengze Technology (872137), ST Shenghong (870728), Fudao Technology (831814), Dongfang Jinggong (002611), Pioneer Machinery (834685) Zhehai Deman (688577), Zhongdali De (002896), Dema Technology (688360), Chang’er Equipment (833115), Jiechuang Technology (831817), Jinchen Co., Ltd. (603396), Chuangsheng Intelligence (836378), Uni President Intelligence (836603), Huixing Zhizao (839258), Kanghong Intelligence (839416), Altu Co., Ltd. (833748), Shunda Intelligence (430622), Hongrui Intelligence (837388), Best (300580), Wanlong Electric (430502) Mute Intelligence (870795) core data of this article: industrial robot production, industrial robot industry chain, industrial robot classification, industrial robot market share, industrial robot application field share, industrial robot category share, and industrial robot development trend

Overview of the Industrial Robot Industry 1. Definition: Industrial robots are a general term for robots used in industrial production. Industrial robots are a type of robot that can run automatically through programming or teaching, have multiple joints or degrees of freedom, and have certain perceptual functions, such as vision, force sensing, displacement detection, etc., so as to achieve autonomous judgment and decision-making of the environment and work objects. They can replace manual labor to complete various heavy tasks Automated machines for manual labor in dull or harmful environments.

The subdivision of industrial robots is usually classified according to coordinate forms, driving methods, and motion control methods.

From the perspective of the operating mechanism of industrial robots and the requirements for the quality of the achieved functions, the joint coordinate system has high accuracy and is also the most widely used type. Electric drive is the mainstream driving of industrial robots today, and continuous trajectory control is the basic “quality” of high-end industrial robots.

2. Industry chain analysis: The industrial robot industry involves numerous links and is divided into upstream, midstream, downstream, and industry applications according to the industry chain.

Upstream production of core components such as reducers, servo systems, and control systems; The midstream is for the production of industrial robot bodies; Downstream is the integration of industrial robot systems based on specific requirements of the terminal industry, mainly used to achieve processes or functions such as welding, assembly, inspection, handling, spraying, etc; The industry application mainly refers to the application of industrial robots in terminal industries with high demand for automation and intelligence, such as automobiles and electronics.

In the upstream field, reducers, servo motors, and controllers are the three major components of industrial robots. Large foreign industrial robot enterprises often build core competitiveness by mastering key component technologies.

In recent years, with the improvement of domestic technology, independent brands have gradually entered related fields. In the field of reducer manufacturing, representative enterprises include Green Harmonic, Shanghai Electromechanical, Zhongli Dede, etc; In the field of controller manufacturing, representative enterprises include Green Harmonic, Shanghai Electromechanical, and Zhongli De; In the field of system integration, representative enterprises include Aston, Huichuan Technology, Leisai Intelligence, Corell, etc.

In the field of midstream industrial robot body manufacturing, from the domestic market perspective, the industrial robot body manufacturing market in China is still mainly dominated by foreign enterprises, represented by companies such as Fanuc, ABB, Kuka, and Yaskawa.

Representatives of independent industrial robot body manufacturing brands include Xinsong Robotics, Eston, Huazhong CNC, Xinshida, Yawei Co., Ltd.

In the field of downstream industrial robot system integration, representative enterprises include Tusda, Xinsong Robotics, Kelai Electromechanical, Boshi Co., Ltd., Huachangda, Eston, etc.

The development process of the industrial robot industry: It is entering a mature stage from theoretical research to preliminary industrialization. China’s industrial robot research began in the 1970s and can be roughly divided into four stages: theoretical research stage, prototype research and development stage, demonstration application stage, and preliminary industrialization stage.

——The development of robot technology and its applications can be divided into three stages and four levels, and the key factors for the three stages of development are population dividend, engineer dividend advantage, and artificial intelligence technology advantage.

China has quickly passed the automation stage with its strong population advantage. Currently, many leading industrial robot companies in China have matured their machine intelligence business, such as Kuangshi Technology and Hikvision, whose technology in the field of visual applications is already very outstanding.

With the arrival of an aging society, the demographic dividend is gradually dissipating, and labor costs are increasing, promoting enterprises to implement robot replacement measures.

At present, China, like leading countries such as Japan and South Korea, is in the transitional stage from machine intelligence to artificial intelligence; China is also at the forefront of the world in terms of accumulating artificial intelligence technology.

According to the industry lifecycle theory, the development cycle of an industry mainly includes four stages of development: immaturity, growth, maturity, and decline.

The characteristics of an industry in its mature stage are: the growth rate of the industry slows down to a more moderate level, and the number of newly added enterprises will decrease; The threshold for industry entry has been raised; And excluding the influence of technological innovation factors, the development pace of the industry is synchronized with the gross domestic product.

Based on the current development of China’s industrial robotics industry, it can be inferred that it conforms to most of the characteristics of the mature industry. Therefore, it can be concluded that the industry is in a transitional stage from growth to maturity.

Background of policies in the industrial robot industry: With policy support, the industry is encouraged to actively develop a wide range of industrial robot applications. However, core technologies still need to be breakthrough. Most of the national support policies in the industrial robot industry focus on encouraging breakthroughs in core technologies, independent innovation, and accelerating the process of localization.

In addition, different regions have set different development goals based on their local characteristics.

The current development status of the industrial robot industry 1. Supply: China’s annual production of industrial robots ranks first in the world from 2012 to 2020. The production of industrial robots in China has been increasing year by year, but the growth rate has decreased compared to before in recent years. This is mainly because the development of downstream industries such as automobiles and electronics in China has been limited since 2018, and the growth rate of robot demand has slowed down. However, in the past two years, the strong development of new energy vehicles has driven the development of the industry, The growth rate of industrial robots has once again risen.

In 2020, the production of industrial robots in China reached 237068 units, a cumulative increase of 19.1%.

From January to May 2021, the production of industrial robots in China was 136405 units, an increase of 73.2% compared to the same period last year.

According to IFR statistics, China had the highest production of industrial robots in the world in 2019, reaching 186900 units.

At the same time, compared to the more mature industrial robot technology in the United States, Germany, and Japan, the production is far less than China, with 33300 units, 20500 units, and 49900 units respectively.

2. Demand: China’s industrial robot installation volume ranks first in the world, but the per capita density is relatively low – the industrial robot installation volume ranks first in the world. Since 2016, China’s cumulative installation volume of industrial robots has ranked first in the world and has developed rapidly.

In 2019, China remained the world’s largest robot market, with a total of 144000 industrial robots, an increase of 6.7% from 2018.

According to data from high-tech robots, the sales volume of industrial robots in China was approximately 170000 units in 2020.

Note: Except for the 2020 data from high-tech robots, the rest are from the China Robot Industry Alliance.

——The installation density of industrial robots is relatively low. In terms of installation volume, the global robot consumption market is highly concentrated. In 2019, major countries such as China, Japan, the United States, South Korea, and Germany accounted for a total of 73% of global sales.

China is the main terminal market for industrial robots, with an annual installed volume of 144000 units, followed by Japan and the United States, with 49900 and 33000 units respectively.

From the perspective of robot installation density, the global industrial robot installation density in 2019 was 113 units/10000 people. Singapore and South Korea are the markets with the highest robot installation density, with 918 units and 855 units per 10000 people respectively. However, in the Chinese market with the highest demand, this number is only 187 units, far behind developed countries, and there is still significant room for improvement in the future.

——From the perspective of mechanical structure, according to MIR statistics, in 2020, the sales of vertical multi joint robots in the Chinese market still ranked first among all models, accounting for 63% of the total annual sales; SCARA robots account for 30% of annual sales; In addition, the sales of collaborative robots and Delta robots account for 4% and 3% respectively.

——The market size exceeds 6 billion US dollars, and China’s industrial robot market is developing rapidly, accounting for about one-third of the global market share, making it the world’s largest industrial robot application market.

Currently, the demand for intelligent transformation and upgrading of production and manufacturing in China is increasingly prominent, and the market demand for industrial robots is still strong. According to IFR statistics, the sales volume of industrial robots in China reached 5.73 billion US dollars in 2019, and it is preliminarily estimated that the sales volume in 2020 will reach 6.3 billion US dollars.

3. Application situation: Industrial robots in China are mainly used in the automotive and 3C fields – industry specific applications. Currently, industrial robots in China are mainly used in the automotive and 3C industries. In 2019, the proportion of industrial robots used in the automotive and 3C electronics industries was 29.2% and 23.4%, respectively; At the same time, the application areas of industrial robots worldwide are mainly automotive and 3C electronics, with application proportions of 28.2% and 23.6%, respectively.

It can be seen that the application of industrial robots in China is basically consistent with that of the world.

——The proportion of robot application fields has shown varying degrees of decline in sales in the main application areas of industrial robots against the backdrop of overall market sales decline.

Overall, currently, handling and welding are still the main application areas of industrial robots, and domestic brand robots have seen an increase in market share in processing, welding and brazing, assembly and disassembly, clean rooms, coating and sealing fields.

Among them, handling and loading and unloading were the primary application areas, with sales of 62000 units in 2019, a year-on-year decrease of 4.4%, and their proportion in total sales increased to 43.06%; Sales of 34000 welding and brazing robots decreased by 16% year-on-year, accounting for 23.61%; The sales of assembly and disassembly robots reached 20000 units, a year-on-year decrease of 16.7%, accounting for 13.89%; The sales of robots in the processing field increased by 105.5% year-on-year, making it the only application field that achieved sales growth.

The competitive landscape of the industrial robot industry in China can be divided into three tiers, each of which involves a diverse range of robot categories. The players in the first tier mainly include well-known enterprises such as Eston and Eft, and the industrial robot categories involved include collaborative robots, AGV robots, and palletizing robots; The main players in the second tier include Huazhong CNC, Guangzhou Jingyuan, Beijing Jike, etc; The main players in the third tier include Elliott, Zhijiu Robotics, and Kaibao Robotics.

1. Regional competition: From the perspective of regional competition, the total number of robot enterprises in the Yangtze River Delta economic circle is 11066 as of the end of 2020.

The number of newly added enterprises nationwide in November and December 2020 was 407, with a 2-month growth rate of 3.82%.

Compared to the previous period, there was a slight decline and overall stability.

The number of robot enterprises in the Yangtze River Delta economic circle has reached 4090, accounting for 36.96% of the total number of robot enterprises; The number of robot enterprises in the Pearl River Delta Economic Circle has reached 1925, accounting for 17.40% of the total number of robot enterprises; There are 2129 companies in the Bohai Economic Circle, accounting for 19.24%, while there are only 421 companies in the Chengdu Chongqing Economic Circle, accounting for 3.8%.

By province, in 2020, Guangdong Province ranked first in the country in terms of the number of robot enterprises, with 1925, an increase of 54 compared to last year, with a growth rate of 2.89%; Next is Jiangsu Province, with 1827 enterprises, an increase of 112 compared to last year, with a growth rate of 6.53%.

In terms of the growth rate of the number of enterprises, Jiangxi Province added 7 new robot enterprises in 2020, an increase of 6.86%, making it the province with the highest growth rate in 2020; It is worth noting that Jiangsu Province ranks among the top provinces in China in terms of both the number of enterprises and the growth rate, with a momentum that is close to the top ranked Guangdong Province. In 2020, Jiangsu Province added 112 new robot enterprises, with a growth rate of 6.53%.

2. Competitive landscape of enterprises: Foreign brands are the main focus, while domestic substitution is accelerating. From the perspective of enterprises, ABB, FANUC, KUKA, and Yaskawa Electric are the four major families of industrial robots, and the world’s major industrial robot suppliers also occupy nearly 30% of the market share in China, with FANUC having the highest sales share, The proportion reaches 10%.

Although the industrial robot market in China is still dominated by foreign brand robots, in recent years, with the rapid development of China in the field of robotics, the market share of domestic brand industrial robots in China has gradually increased, and the gap with foreign brand robots is gradually narrowing.

In 2019, the proportion of domestic industrial robots in the total market sales was 31.25%, an increase of 3.37 percentage points from 2018.

In the future, with technological breakthroughs in the core components of industrial robots, such as reducers, controllers, and servo systems, the localization rate will gradually increase, and the acceleration of domestic substitution is timely.

Prediction of the Development Prospects and Trends of the Industrial Robot Industry 1. Prediction of the Scale of Industrial Robots In 2020, the impact of the epidemic will be significant. However, due to China’s timely measures and significant anti epidemic effects, as well as the rapid resumption of work and production by enterprises, the overall output of industrial robots will be relatively small. The national industrial robot market size in 2020 is about 6.3 billion US dollars, and the compound growth rate from 2021 to 2025 is expected to be around 15%, The market size can reach 17.2 billion US dollars in 2026.

2. The integration of industrial robots is a key breakthrough point for future technology. Currently, industrial robots in China mainly perform deterministic tasks in structured environments, and are not flexible enough to operate in complex dynamic environments. This is mainly due to the weak perception ability of industrial robots in terms of integration with the environment and collaboration with other robots.

With the development of traditional industrial robots in machine vision, intelligent sensing, and cloud technology, future industrial robots will become more intelligent and flexible, optimizing from traditional robots to integrated robots.

3. Cloud based robots and industrial robot cloud platforms will emerge in intelligent manufacturing production scenarios, requiring industrial robots to have the ability to self-organize and collaborate to meet flexible production, which brings the demand for cloud based robots (with robot brains in the cloud) and industrial robot cloud platforms.

Compared with traditional robots, cloud based robots need to be connected to the control center in the cloud through a network, based on a platform with ultra-high computing power, and use big data and artificial intelligence to perform real-time computational control on the production and manufacturing process.

In fact, some manufacturers have started to layout on cloud based robots and industrial robot cloud platforms.

In 2017, Huawei, Skymind, China Mobile, Data Technology, GTI, and SoftBank jointly launched the “GTI 5G and Cloud Robotics White Paper”, which pointed out that cloud robots, the “brain” located in data centers, utilize artificial intelligence and other software technologies, and use local onboard controllers to issue commands to traditional robots. Cloud robots will enter a new value chain, technology, architecture Experience and new business models.

In the future, with the development and maturity of technologies such as 5G, AI, and cloud computing, cloud based robots and industrial robot cloud platforms may become a new round of development hotspots.

4. The potential application of industrial robots in the medical field needs to be explored. Currently, industrial robots are mainly used in the automotive industry. With the saturation of industrial robot applications in the automotive industry, the application of industrial robots is gradually expanding to other fields.

Driven by the epidemic, some industrial robot manufacturers have immediately laid out industrial robots in the medical field, such as using industrial robots to assemble medical syringes or for filling and closing small bottles. The specific situation is shown in the table below: For more research and analysis in this industry, please refer to the Forward Industry Research Institute’s “Forecast of Production and Sales Demand and Analysis of Transformation and Upgrading in the Chinese Industrial Robot Industry”.

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