China’s automated guided vehicle (AGV) and autonomous mobile robot (AMR) companies sold 3.6 billion yuan (US$523 million) worth of products abroad, up 44% year on year, according to an industry report released recently.
The study, carried out by Mobile Robot and AGV/AMR Industry Alliance, an industry association, shows that the combined overseas sales of Chinese AGV and AMR firms topped 1 billion yuan for the first time in 2019.
The rising overseas revenue is an indicator of the growing influence of Chinese robots in the global market, and also mirrors the trend to go global, says the study.
The international expansion of Chinese robot players mainly proceeds in three modes — by establishing localized teams and operations, supplying the products and parts necessary for integrated solutions and developing a distribution network with partners abroad, the study finds.
Aside from these three modes, Chinese AMR and AGV companies also are venturing abroad with their clients in manufacturing and replicating their domestic formulas in a global setting.
Amid the steady development of industrial automation and Covid disruptions, manufacturing, warehousing and logistics sectors now experience a spike in demand for industrial AMR or AGVs, the study’s authors point out.
Since China deployed its first AGV in 1991, the country’s AMR and AGV domain has managed to come from behind and overtake that of quite a few advanced economies.
China now is a leader in product technologies and applications in this area, according to the study.
Going forward, the center of the industry will be in China, whether from the perspective of market demand and technological application, the study adds.
The authors admit that China does lag some foreign brands in the upstream AMR and AGV industrial chain, especially in several core components.
But with the industry gathering momentum, more mobile robots will benefit from long-term growth opportunities, as they look to substitute imported core parts, software and systems with homegrown equivalents.
This development will further consolidate the market dominance of Chinese AMR and AGV companies globally, the study concludes.