What Chinese industry is experiencing is not a simple transition to a new era of automation but a radical revolution from the ground up of a country that wants to break its reliance on foreign technology and pull its robotics industries up to the European and North American standards. Thanks to the Made in China 2025 industry policy, the Chinese robot market value has exceeded over 15 Billion euros in 2017 according to HIT Insight Group and it has reached its historically highest-level fighting against the dependence on imports for core components and profit from pure system integration. Chinese robot makers are now prop up with financial support both from local governments and private sectors and top companies are acquiring promising foreign assets.
But now, while the Chinese robot market seems to be on the right path to get finally closer to its maturity, a new dilemma might arise. How could the world most populous country, who relies for 97% on SME, sustain a fully automated scenario without shocking its social structure?
The answer is Cobotics. China is leading the explosion of the cobot market with a demand that is increasing by 110% per year, 50% more than the global average, and it is ready to become an example for emerging countries by laying the foundations of an alternative cobotics-oriented investment model.
Unlike traditional robots, cobots are not designed for a fully automated and large-scale scenario but they could answer the needs of small and medium size companies by assisting workers and creating a more flexible workplace where the two actors, humans and cobots, can closely cooperate and together produce outcome that neither could deliver in isolation.
Cobots market is blooming and Chinese robot makers are eager to catch up with their international competitors. HIT Robot Group, Aubo, Siasun, Rokae and Hans Robot are already well-known brand on the market but startups like Jaka, Elibot and Yteam join the competition with strong investment.
The cobots demand is not going to stop growing and HMC Invetsment Securities forecasted 735.000 units sold by 2025. Universal Robot, the market leader with more than 50% share, has deployed about 30.000 cobots in the last 5 years but this is far from satisfying the huge demand that is coming. Who will meet this terrific market? China is getting ahead of the game and it is anything but unlikely that the next category leader may come from there.