The volume of China’s industrial robot production totaled 36,352 units in November, down 12.6% year on year, signaling the enduring impact of a slowing economy on the manufacturing sector.
Monthly data released by National Bureau of Statistics on December 15 shows that in the first 11 months of this year, the country churned out 385,605 industrial robots, down 2.8% from the same period last year.
Although industrial robot output in November rose 9.91% from 33,074 units a month earlier, the sector has been caught up in a downward spiral for months.
Sales of industrial robots have also slowed compared to the past few years.
According to an estimate by GGII, a robot- and automation-focused market intelligence provider, a total of 316,000 industrial robots were sold this year, an increase of 4% over a year earlier.
A slowing world economy, a lackluster manufacturing sector and sluggish demand from various domains have contributed to a decline in sales expansion for industrial robots in China.
This trend is also manifest in trade numbers. In the third quarter of this year, China exported 4,691 industrial robots, tumbling 52.62% year on year.
During the same period, imports slumped 32.99% to 17,726 units.
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In the first three quarters of this year, Chinese industrial robot exports plunged 37.03% to 15,577 units, while the country imported 64,156 industrial robots, 18.27% fewer than a year earlier.
GGII explained that amid an uncertain global economic recovery, overseas robot suppliers continue to see decreasing number and value of orders.
PV, a rare bright spot
At home, despite a steady rebound of the Chinese economy, traditional big buyers of industrial robots such as 3C manufacturers are still grappling with weak demand.
Demand from EV and lithium battery makers also fell dramatically over the previous year.
The photovoltaic (PV) sector has been a rare bright spot, becoming the principal driver of growth in industrial robotics.
GGII forecasted a 50% expansion for China’s PV space this year.