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China Moves Up Worldwide Robot-Density Ranking

According to a new industry report, China’s massive investment in industrial robotics has pushed the country up the global rankings in robot density, indicating a significant improvement in the country’s industrial automation level.

South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Germany, and China will be the world’s top five most automated manufacturing countries in 2021. Meanwhile, robot density in the United States increased from 255 to 274 units in 2020, and the country now ranks ninth in the world, down from seventh.

According to the report, China has the world’s fastest-growing robot market, with the highest number of annual installations, and it has had the most significant operational stock of robots each year since 2016. Last year, the number of operational industrial robots per 10,000 employees in China’s manufacturing industry reached 322 units, ranking fifth globally.

“Robot density is a key indicator of automation adoption in the manufacturing industry worldwide,” says Marina Bill, president of the industry organisation. “The global average robot density in the manufacturing industry has risen to 141 robots per 10,000 employees, more than doubling the number from six years ago.”

China’s government can use research and development, manufacturing, and application of robots to assess a country’s scientific and technological innovation and high-end manufacturing level. The burgeoning robotics industry in China is becoming increasingly crucial in quickening the intelligent transformation of the manufacturing sector.

China’s rapid growth demonstrates the power of its investment thus far, but there is still much room for automation. In the Communist Party of China’s 20th National Congress report, the country will put innovation at the centre of its modernisation. The drive comes in response to the world’s significant developed countries’ movement to increase their push to research and develop core technologies related to high-end robots. The country will accelerate its innovation-driven development strategy to achieve greater self-reliance and strength in science and technology.

As one of China’s strategic emerging industries, the robotics sector has made remarkable progress in recent years. According to National Bureau of Statistics data, China’s industrial robot output reached a record 366,000 units in 2021, up 68% yearly.

“Robots are the key equipment to achieve intelligent manufacturing. It has become an increasingly indispensable part of smart factories,” said Tao Yong, a robotics professor at Beihang University in Beijing.

According to Tao, robots are critical in driving intelligent transformation and upgrading the traditional manufacturing industry. For example, many businesses are implementing industrial robots to improve operational reliability and lower costs.

Efforts should be made to achieve breakthroughs in core and essential technologies such as intelligent perception, human-machine interaction, and robotics programming and simulation, as well as to fully exploit enterprises’ leading role in promoting the industrial use of robots and strengthening the coordinated development of robotic industrial and supply chains.

The Chinese Institute of Electronics predicts that the country’s robotics market will reach US$17.4 billion in 2022, with a five-year average annual growth rate of 22%. By the end of this year, the country’s industrial robot market is expected to be worth US$8.7 billion.

According to Song Xiaogang, Executive Director and Secretary-General of the China Robot Industry Alliance, robots are indispensable and significant equipment for boosting industrial automation, digitalisation, and intelligence. Therefore, industries could widely use them in high-end manufacturing.

To protect its workers, China has advanced its robotic technology. In mid-2022, the Ministry of Emergency Management unveiled a plan for more intelligent facilities in high-risk industrial sectors and replacing workers in dangerous positions with robots. A series of robot demonstration projects will be launched, along with pilot programmes to promote the integration of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) with production safety.

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