The employment trend shows that a batch of high-precision and high-efficiency robots are replacing traditional labor to engage in simple and repetitive jobs. At the beginning of this year, Foxconn Shenzhen Factory was hiring less unskilled workers and some jobs were taken by robots instead. As the labor costs rise, some large companies have already begun considering the heavy use of robots.
BYD Company Limited spent several thousand millions yuan introducing spray painting robots in 2009 and Foxconn planned to increase the number of robots on production lines, reaching 100 units in 2014. At a just-ended exhibition in Shenzhen, many industrial robot manufacturers claimed that they had received a great number of orders from large companies. Robotic workers are expected to be found in the industrial parks all over the country and dominate the manufacturing lines in the future.
Localized production is the trend of the robot industry. National development plan for intelligent equipment industry emphasizes the technical breakthrough in industrial robots and related key parts such as servo system and reducer. The forthcoming Guidance on Promoting Industrial Robot Industry will approves China’s major science and technology project of high-end CNC machine tool and basic manufacturing equipment, project of intelligent manufacture development and financial support to the development of industrial robots and key parts. Mass use of industrial robots is to replace manual labor and improve productivity. In China, low-end manufacturing mainly relies on abundant supply of cheap labor. However, as the demographic dividend tends to disappear; the labor costs gradually increase; technology evolves and large scale production is realized, the annual costs of robots are down by 5% on average; substitution effect of robots replacing labor can be seen constantly; the economic payback period of robots replacing labor becomes increasingly shorter; and China’s robot industry booms dramatically.
The use density of robots is closely related to the technical strength of manufacturing. Currently, the use density of robots in China is not commensurate with that in the manufacturing powers. China’s use density of robots in 2012 was only 21 sets/10,000 people, obviously lower than the international average of 55 sets/10,000 people and 250 sets/10,000 people in manufacturing powers including Japan, Korea and Germany.
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