From Frank Tobe’s Robot Report – China’s 12th 5-Year Plan targeted robotics as a growth industry necessary for China’s development. It expects a compound growth rate of 25%, said Wang Weiming, deputy director of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The ministry has set up incentives and 5 geographical areas for Chinese companies to develop (and improve the quality of) their robot products and capabilities. The ambitious plan includes a goal of 30% to be produced with homegrown technologies.
In addition to Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, authorities in Liaoning province are constructing a robot industrial complex so that by 2017 they expect $8 billion for robots and other automation equipment.
Ilian Bonev, an Associate Professor in Robotics at the École de technology supérieure in Montreal, Canada, in a recent post, suggests that China probably already has become the largest user of industrial robots in the world. Citing data from the IFR which showed that 23,000 robots were sold into China in 2012, Bonev added 9,800 robots manufactured by six major Chinese vendors giving a total of 32,800 – 4,000 greater than the 28,700 sold into Japan in 2012. Hence his claim that China has already become the largest buyer of robots.
And this doesn’t include Foxconn’s Foxbots – the robots produced in Taiwan for Foxconn’s factories in mainland China. Foxconn already has 20,000 robots at work in it’s factories according to CEO Terry Gou. Yet these are not reported by the IFR because Foxconn isn’t a member of the Taiwanese Robot Association (TAIROA) nor are they reported as a Chinese manufacturer or a member of the new CRIA.
According to the IFR’s President Dr. Shinsuke Sakakibara at a press conference preceding CIROS, China is forecast to exceed Japan and the USA as the largest market for robots, particularly when in-country manufactured robots are included in the tally, sometime in 2014.
Foxconn is targeting production of one million industrial robots over the next two to three years.