Chinese industrial robot companies that meet certain revenue threshold produced some 443,000 sets of the contraption last year, a top industry association announced recently.
China Robot Industry Alliance, a Beijing-headquartered industry association for robotic companies nationwide, released figures early this month showing that in December 2022, domestic industrial robot manufacturers of “scale” churned out 40,000 sets.
In China, industrial producers of “scale” mean those with an annual revenue of over 20 million yuan (US$2.95 million) generated from principal business.
In the meantime, the alliance also updated numbers of China’s import and export of industrial robot last year, for which the country has emerged as a major supplier.
In December last year, China exported US$50 million worth of industrial robots, while it imported US$180 million of these equipment.
During the twelve months ending in December, domestic industrial robot makers exported a total of US$610 million in goods, while the nation’s imports were more than three times as many, at US$2 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of US$1.39 billion.
The alliance added the sales volume of China’s industrial robots was estimated at over 300,000 units, more than half of which came from overseas markets.
Despite multiple headwinds, in particular Covid-induced supply chain disruptions, the proportion of Chinese robot sales in global markets continued to rise, albeit at a slower pace, said the alliance.
These numbers came as demand is set to rebound for industrial automation equipment, including robots, now that the country has abandoned its strict Covid controls and industrial production steadily regains momentum.
In 2023, orders for industrial robots are poised to peak as major buyers from 3C (computer, communication and consumer electronics), food, new energy vehicle and photovoltaic industries bounce back and look to tap into growing demand.
Several policies also provide an extra boost. According to China’s Industrial Plan for Robotics during the 14th Five-Year Plan Period (2021-2025), by 2025 the use of robotics in China’s manufacturing sector is expected to double over 2020.
Given that the density of industrial robots was 246 units per 10,000 individuals in 2020, at least 1 million units need to be added to the fleet to reach the target of 500 units per 10,000 individuals in 2025 — an indicator of the huge market potential, the alliance noted.
Changing demographics also play a role in wider adoption of robotics. China reported a drop of 850,000 people from its population by the end of 2022. With the country now grappling with a natural population growth rate of -0.60‰ and increasingly on the precipice of a demographic cliff, robots are set to supplant humans in more aspects of workplace.