China’s AMR shipments in the first half of this year (H1) totaled 48,000 units, up 26% year on year, a survey by an industry research institute found.
GGII, a robot and automation-focused business intelligence provider, said that the domestic AMR/AGV industry had faced strong headwinds in the first six months of 2023, wrestling with difficulties in securing orders, fundraising, delivery and getting paid.
GGII thus cut its full-year growth forecasts for the industry to 102,000 units, an increase of 26% over the previous year.
Production of industrial robots, including AMRs, hit 222,100 units in H1, up 9.71% year on year.
The lackluster performance of this sector is partly blamed on anemic demand from downstream clients.
Although the photovoltaic (PV) domain has led the rebound, order recovery in many other business categories has been slow.
The PV industry saw a spike of more than 100% in orders in H1, followed by the slower-than-expected recovery of demand from automaking, e-commerce and 3C spaces.
A scale-up in PV production has driven the explosive growth in AGV sales in H1. The sector is expected to generate a sales volume of 19,000 units, up 100% from last year, through 2023.
Although many AMR businesses have been vigorously exploring overseas markets to mitigate risks of reliance on a weak domestic market, either by forming local dealerships or setting up sales offices, only a few have managed to keep their operations abroad in running order.
Given the current situation, the overseas business of domestic AGV manufacturers is likely to surpass 30% of their total revenue in 2023, GGII predicted.
Funding into AMR and AGV players has dropped almost by half in H1, with only 19 companies pulling in 1.425 billion yuan during this period, according to estimates by GGII.
Product-wise, categories such as unmanned forklift and AMR have maintained their momentum. Among the 29 new launched in the second quarter of this year, autonomous forklift made up more than 50%.
GGII projected this bright spot to reach a sales increase of 60%, while forecasting a 40% leap in AMR sales.
As difficulties that hobbled AMR firms in H1 are poised to last well into H2, some companies could be facing an existential crisis, GGII pointed out.
The institute expected unmanned forklift and AMR sales to exceed 20,000 and 25,000 units throughout the year, respectively, spurred by booming demand from PV companies.