China lays out five-year plan to be global robotics hub

China has unveiled a five-year plan to drive its ambition of becoming a global innovation hub for robotics by 2025. It hopes to get there by focusing on enhancements in key components such as servomotors and control panels.

In releasing the five-year roadmap, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Tuesday said operating income from the country’s robotics industry was projected to grow an average of 20% between 2021 and 2025.

This sector expanded at an average annual growth rate of 15% between 2016 and 2020, with operating income passing 100 billion yuan ($15.69 billion) for the first time last year.

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China’s manufacturing robot density last year clocked at 246 units per 10,000 people, which was almost double the global average, according to the ministry. The metric is used to measure a country’s level of automation.

It now was looking to double this figure by 2025, Wang Weiming, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology was quoted in a report from state-owned newspaper, China Daily.

Concerted efforts would be made to drive breakthroughs in core robot components such as speed reducers, servomotors, and controls, which were seen as the basic building blocks of automated machines, Wang said.

“The goal is that by 2025, the performance and reliability of these homegrown key components can reach the level of advanced foreign products,” he said.

The Chinese government is expecting high-end advanced robots to be adopted across more sectors, including automobile, aerospace, railway, logistics, and mining.

Citing stats from the National Bureau of Statistics, the report noted that the cumulative output of industrial robots in China hit 330,000 units in the first 11 months this year, growing 49% year-on-year.

According to the 2021 World Robot Report, the global manufacturing robot density clocked an average 126 robots per 10,000 employees last year. This figure was 66 units in 2015. The top three most automated countries were in Asia-Pacific: South Korea at 932 units per 10,000 employees, Singapore at 605 units, and Japan at 390 units. Germany was fourth, followed by Sweden at fifth.

Asia/Australia had the highest average robot density by region, at 134 units, while Europe clocked at 123 units and the Americas at 111 units.

The report pointed to China’s robot density growth as “the most dynamic” globally, fuelled by a significant climb inn installations. The country’s density rate was at just 49 units in 2015, compared to 246 units last year. China currently is ranked ninth in robot density, up from 25th in 2015.

Japan is the world’s largest industrial robot manufacturer, delivering 45% of the global robot supply. The country clocked a production capacity of 174,000 units last year.

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