Chinese industrial robots to meet ‘epic’ opportunity amid slowing economy, says exec

The businessman attributed part of the robot industry's brisk development over the past few years to policy support and market promotion.

China’s homegrown industrial robots face an epic opportunity as the country’s economic slowdown puts a higher emphasis on cost reduction and efficiency gains, a top corporate executive said recently.

You Wei, chairman and general manager of Efort (埃夫特, 688165.SH), a smart industrial robot producer, said in a recent interview that enormous opportunities lie ahead for the domestic industrial robot sector in both existing and new markets.

One of the existing markets is auto making and auto parts manufacturing.

“Penetration of homegrown robots in this segment is very low, meaning the space for growth is immense,” said You. “Thus they have a fairly big opportunity to grab some market share for themselves.”

According to him, more intelligent industrial robots also have a bigger role to play in markets where their predecessors failed to make a difference.

In traditional manufacturing, there exist a host of complex scenarios involving production of multiple types of items and in small batches.

Pre-programmed robots often don’t have the agility to adapt to these application scenarios.

“If robots become smarter, we can address those pain points,” You noted. “This new market is considerably bigger.”

Brisk development

Efort recorded better-than-expected revenue growth in the first three quarters of this year.

As of September, the Nanjing-based company churned out 10,240 robots, up a staggering 122% year on year.

During the same period, sales totaled 9,567 units, 118% higher than a year earlier.

You told investors in early November that the company had more or less reached its annual sales target of 10,000 units by October.

In the fourth quarter, the firm will continue its market expansion drive.

The businessman attributed part of the robot industry’s brisk development over the past few years to policy support and market promotion.

As he sees it, the market share of indigenous industrial robots has steadily grown, as their adoption expands from peripheral markets into mainstream sectors like photovoltaic, lithium-ion battery and electronics.

“Chinese-made robots will keep moving up the value chain, to explore advanced manufacturing spaces such as aviation, railway and automobile, as well as to work on product iteration and bolster product performance,” You explained.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at

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