Beijing time on July 7th news, the US "Wall Street Journal" online edition today said that China has gradually emerged as an automation center, breaking many assumptions about robots and the global economy, but also marked a major transformation of the Chinese economy.
The following is the full text of the article:
Focus on developing automation
China is a veritable world factory, but today, the manufacturing power is ready to hand over many jobs to robots.
China is already the world's largest robot market, and sales last year achieved a rapid growth of 54%. This boom has shown that the industry is thriving. According to the statistics of the International Robot Association, China's industrial robot installations will rank first in the world next year.
China has gradually emerged as an automation center, breaking many assumptions about robots and the global economy.
Economists often view automation as a way for developed countries to avoid the loss of industrial enterprises, and can even recapture lost companies because the focus of this trend is to reduce labor costs. This power has disappeared. On the contrary, in the frontier markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America, robots are gradually replacing humans in various jobs, resulting in a significant reduction in the employment effect of building new factories.
This trend in China is driven by a combination of economic factors. Although China's labor costs are still lower than those of developed economies such as the United States, this indicator is also growing rapidly. This has depressed the enthusiasm of many companies to increase their jobs. The cost of new robotics technology is decreasing and the difficulty of use is decreasing. In addition, no matter where the factory is located, many industries that are growing rapidly in China (such as automobile manufacturing) tend to rely heavily on automated production technology. In the electronics industry and other areas where the focus is on refined operations, much of the work can only be done by machines.
Adams Nager, an economic analyst at the Washington Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said: "We think China will only produce small, inexpensive parts," but that's not their point. He believes that China is gradually reducing industries that rely on large labor force, such as clothing production, and instead focuses on developing capital-intensive industries, such as steel and electronics, which are driven by automation.
China's major transformation
From this point of view, the trend in China is not much different from the rest of the world.
However, the rise of this trend in China marks a major transformation. Some economists believe that only a handful of countries can now use industrialization to generate large employment growth, thus helping them to surpass many rich countries. China is one of them. If the automation trend continues, employment growth is likely to slow down – although this phenomenon is not obvious in China.
The International Robotics Association estimates that global industrial robot sales last year were about 225,000 units, a year-on-year increase of 27%. Robot sales in major global markets are growing, with half of them coming from Asia. However, China's performance is particularly outstanding. In 2014, robot sales reached 56,000 units.
The agency believes that China's robot market will continue to prosper, one of the reasons is that the "robot density" there is relatively low. There are about 30 robots per 10,000 factory workers in China, and Germany's index is 10 times that of China.
“China (in the field of robotics) has experienced explosive growth,” said Henrik Christensen, head of the robotics lab at Georgia Tech, adding that the world’s largest robotics companies are actively setting up in China. The factory meets the country's large demand for new equipment.
Terry Hannon, chief business development and strategy officer at Adept Technology, a Silicon Valley-based robot manufacturer, said he saw 400 new local robot manufacturers at a China show last year. This really surprised him. Foxconn is one of these rookies, and the company has announced that it will produce and install thousands of robots to provide assembly services for Apple's iPhone and other products.