Fanuc’s Shanghai gigafactory nears completion, months away from operation

With Fanuc's plant also months away from beginning its operation, these two giants are almost certain to intensify competition and even grab market share from their domestic peers, Chinese media estimated.

Chinese media reported recently that the gigafactory of Fanuc, one of the “Big Four” industrial robot giants, has taken shape in Shanghai and is scheduled to be ready for production within this year.

Construction on the factory’s scores of buildings is nearing completion, and industrial equipment have been moved in and installed, the report added.

Located in Baoshan, a suburb of Shanghai, the Fanuc factory is one of Shanghai’s key projects that got underway in 2020.

Its construction spans two phases and when finished, the iconic factory will be Fanuc’s second-largest robot production base after its headquarters in Japan.

The city is currently in the middle of building the first phase of the project. With an investment of 1.58 billion yuan (US$230 million), it is slated to be topped off in July for review and begin production in October.

According to plans, Fanu’s factory, with an expected annual revenue of 10 billion yuan, will not just produce robots and supply downstream industrial players with world-leading manufacturing automation solutions, but will also offer employee training and exhibit advanced equipment, among others.

Fanuc has lagged behind its archrival ABB, whose US$500 million Shanghai giga-factory was already up and running in December last year.

As ABB’s most advanced, automated and flexible robotic plant, it sits on a 67,000-sqm land parcel and uses robots to produce robots, capable of churning out up to 100,000 units a year.

ABB said earlier that in the future more than 90% of its products sold in China will be manufactured in its Shanghai gigafactory.

The firm hopes this will boost its supply capabilities and consolidate its role as a market leader.

With Fanuc’s plant also months away from beginning its operation, these two giants are almost certain to intensify competition and even grab market share from their domestic peers, Chinese media estimated.

Data show that in 2021, Shanghai’s industrial robot production exceeded 70,000 units, up 34% year on year. In 2022, even with the Covid-induced lockdown, the city rolled out an estimated 75,000 units of industrial robots, an increase of 6% from the previous year, ranking at the top among domestic cities.

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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, Trip.com 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 nitao0927@gmail.com.

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