[Observation]Is the government’s competition for investment in industrial robots behind the exaggeration internal friction?
The annual output of industrial Robots in China was 72,000 units, an increase of 34.3% over 2015. From 2013 to 2015, China has become the world’s largest sales volume of industrial robots for three consecutive years, accounting for an average of 1/4 of global sales each year.
With the acceleration of the transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing industry, as an emerging strategic industry, industrial robots are becoming the focus of various capitals and local governments, and they are pouring into the tide of robot development. By the end of 2016, there were about 3,000 enterprises involved in robot production in China, and more than 50 industrial parks focusing on the development of robots had emerged across the country.
Recently, people in the industry and experts have said that an industry with a level of less than 100 billion makes the local area have such a high enthusiasm for development, and it is necessary to be alert to the problems of excess investment and low-end products of high-end products. As an emerging strategic industry, is the development of industrial robots really as described above? What is the root cause of this series of problems?
Behind the rush is exaggeration
“The demand for the transformation and upgrading of China’s overall manufacturing industry has driven the development of China’s industrial robots.” Song Xiaogang said that in the context of the supply side, China’s manufacturing industry is facing the status quo of reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and improving quality, using new machines to produce functional diversity. It is a difficult problem that cannot be avoided in the current manufacturing industry. In the new round of international industrial revolution and economic reform, from the United States proposed the return of manufacturing, Germany’s Industry 4.0, to the robot development strategy proposed by Japan, all developed countries have regarded robots as one of the focuses of the new round of industrial layout.
From the national level to the local government, it is right to care about and encourage the development of industrial robots, and the general direction is not wrong. Robots are a very critical intelligent equipment for the transformation and upgrading, digitalization and intelligent development of the manufacturing industry. The huge market demand potential and the high level of attention and support from the national high-level leaders have made local governments and various capitals pour into the wave of Industrial Robot development, hoping to occupy a place in the next round of emerging industry development. At present, there are about 3,000 enterprises in the whole industry chain of R&D, manufacturing, sales, and system integration related to the Robot Industry in China. The scale of the enterprise ranges from a few people to two or three hundred people.
At present, Shanghai proposes to build China’s largest robotics industrial park, while Chongqing says it will build a robotics industry scale of 150 billion yuan by 2020. From Harbin, Chengdu, Shanghai, Anhui and other places, local governments in many large and medium-sized cities expressed their willingness to provide financial financing and policy support to attract the robotics industry to settle down and take root. Relevant materials show that as of the end of 2015, 28 provinces and cities across the country have clearly listed robots and key components as their development priorities.
Song Xiaogang, executive director and secretary-general of the China Robot Industry Alliance, said in an interview with a reporter from the Enterprise Observer that there is indeed a phenomenon of rushing into the industrial robot industry. There are more than 50 robot industrial parks under construction and already built all over the country. “Everyone’s enthusiasm actually reflects the exaggerated elements of this industry.” Yao Zhiju, deputy secretary-general of the China Robot Industry Alliance, said in an interview with the media.
The chasing of places is internal friction
Kunshan, which is a “manufacturing city”, is located between Shanghai and Suzhou. Its unique geographical location makes it a “foreign trade center”. It is a famous notebook computer industry center in the country.mechanicaland other traditional manufacturing enterprises. With the supply-side reform, a large number of traditional manufacturing industries in Kunshan are facing related problems such as industrial technology transformation and upgrading, which provides a necessary basic customer group for the development of industrial robots in Kunshan.
A document from the Kunshan Municipal Government shows that in January 2016, in the Kunshan Municipal Party Committee and Municipal Government “Several Policies on Financial Support for Promoting Transformation, Upgrading, Innovation and Development” (Kunshan CommitteeOn the basis of No. 28), the Kunshan Municipal Government issued the “Several Policy Opinions on Accelerating the Development of Robotics and Intelligent Manufacturing Industry in Kunshan” (hereinafter referred to as “Opinions”). , innovation, etc., 12 different financial support policies have been introduced, and each reward and support fund ranges from tens of thousands of yuan to tens of millions of yuan. Since 2008, Kunshan Robot Industrial Park has settled more than 30 enterprises, attracting many high-end, mid- and high-end enterprises in the field of robotics at home and abroad, such as Kuka, Gaoshen, Leisi, Huaheng, Yongnian Laser, etc., forming the robot body. , spare parts, vision, system integration and other complete industrial robot upstream and downstream industry chain. Kunshan High-tech Zone Robot Industrial Park is listed as the top three of the top ten robot industrial parks in the country. In 2010, it was approved by the Torch Center of the Ministry of Science and Technology as the Jiangsu Robot Characteristic Industrial Base of the National Torch Program, covering an area of 110 acres. Chen Zhijun (pseudonym), who is in charge of investment promotion, said that although robots are currently very popular, they are not enough to become a pillar industry for local economic development. For the future development potential, the government decided to push from behind to promote the development of industrial robots. However, the government’s policy subsidies and promotions are only one side of the country’s local development of industrial robots.
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Yao Zhiju from the Robot Industrial Park in Kunshan High-tech Zone once said that in the past two years, the local government has supported 77 policies for the development of the robot industry. “To be precise, this is a kind of internal friction.” A staff member of an industrial park who did not want to be named said that the entire industrial robot market is currently so large. There are more than 50 industrial parks across the country, and attracting investment and attracting capital is competition. The introduction of preferential robot investment policies one after another may be beneficial to local economic development, but it will be a big harm if you consider the overall development of the industry at the national level. Chen Zhijun explained that the robot industrial parks in various cities have poured money into them to introduce preferential policies, which has led to some enterprises and projects to make a fortune here today and make a fortune there tomorrow, or a company has registered and settled in multiple places.
Song Xiaogang told a reporter from the Enterprise Observer: “The general idea and direction of the local government to build a scale of 100 billion industrial robots is wrong.” From building materials, metallurgy, petrochemicals, to automobile manufacturing, logistics, etc., although robots are widely used in fields, they are not widely used. Unlike petrochemicals, building materials, light industry, etc., there are hundreds of thousands or tens of trillions of profits, so the industrial robot industry cannot become the main economic pillar industry of local governments. In addition, it is difficult for each company to sell 10,000 robots per year. Taking the sales of 69,000 robots in 2015 as an example, if each robot is priced at 300,000, the total scale of China’s industrial market is only 21 billion yuan, and the global sales of industrial robots is 254,000, which is only more than 76 billion. The actual application price of each robot is only between 100,000 and 200,000 yuan. He said that as a local government, we must think clearly about the goal and direction of developing industrial robots, in order to promote the transformation and upgrading of the local manufacturing industry, and meet the labor costs and recruitment difficulties faced by the manufacturing industry, rather than blindly flooding into it.
Compared with the blindness of some local governments, Song Xiaogang is more worried that some local enterprises and financial capital enterprises will not understand the development laws and characteristics of robots when transforming, but they will look at the future market demand and watch the local government shout out. Hundreds of billions of industry slogans and strong support, blindly follow the trend and enter the robot industry. “Enterprises and local governments should figure out where your capabilities and strengths are.” Song Xiaogang said that industrial robots are a talent, capital, and technology-intensive industry. They are not like home appliances that can be operated by looking at the manual. Industrial robots must be truly The production process used in the manufacturing industry is also integrated with the production processes, processes and management systems of different industries, and the industry is highly specialized.
In the context of supply-side reform, industrial robot companies must stand in the perspective of serving the transformation and upgrading of traditional manufacturing industries, and take helping them improve efficiency and improve problems as the standard, and find their own market share and target customer groups in a certain field. Song Xiaogang said that it is not necessary to transform into a robot just because the sales of notebooks is not good. Instead, we should think about why notebooks do not sell well? What kind of robots can produce better and more distinctive notebooks? This is the fundamental starting point for the production of robots.
Domestic robot technology is limited, it is very difficult to live
In June 2016, Xin Guobin, vice minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, admitted in an interview with the media: “At present, my country’s robot industry has shown a trend of high-end industry and low-end, and there is a hidden concern of excess investment.” Among the more than 3,000 robot companies in China , There are more than 800 large-scale domestic robot companies. Song Xiaogang said that in the operation and development of robot companies, there has been a phenomenon of imitation and homogeneous competition. Materials from the China Robotics Alliance show that in 2015, the sales of domestic industrial robots’ own brands exceeded 30% of the national industrial robot market for the first time. In the first half of 2016, domestic industrial robots have served 37 major categories of national economic industries and 91 sub-categories of national economic industries. Computer, communication and other electronic equipment, automobile and electrical machinery, equipment manufacturing, etc.
“Although there is a demand in the market, there are too many companies making industrial robots.” Mr. Hou, the business of Huaheng Welding Industrial Robot, revealed in an interview with a reporter from the Enterprise Observer. quite large. The company’s main business is the sales of welding, packaging, handling robots and robot system integration, with a total annual turnover of about 300 million. However, there are many small companies in the market with a team of a few or a dozen people, and it is common for companies that have been shut down after two years to re-register. As a high-end industry, the body sales of domestic industrial robots have been in fierce competition, and the industry has been reshuffled frequently, making it almost unprofitable. Thanks to the development of the robot system integration service business, the company is relatively better.
“Some companies actually rely on government subsidies to survive, and vicious competition below cost prices is the most terrifying.” Song Xiaogang said that such companies cannot make profits by themselves, and rely on government subsidies to operate at a loss and fight price wars. The performance and stability cannot be guaranteed, but it has caused a lot of trouble and impact to application companies, and disrupted the entire industrial robot industry. Song Xiaogang said that sometimes the government’s policy subsidies have the opposite effect. The robots produced by many companies have never been used, and they claim to have produced products with much output value or applied them to any industry. If it is really applied and how well it is applied, in fact, the local government does not know much about it. Local governments should track and supervise in real time, implement the feasibility of evaluating policies, and make timely adjustments.
Chen Zhijun, who is in charge of investment promotion in Kunshan Robot Industrial Park, said that for the application enterprises of technological upgrading and transformation, the equipment transformation of hundreds or tens of millions has extremely strict requirements on the safety and stability of robot applications, because the domestic quality is not guaranteed, resulting in application Customers have no confidence and directly reject domestic independent brands, and even designate foreign robot brands. The so-called whole machine sales is meaningless.Chen Zhijun said that the servomotor, reducer and controller are the three core parts of industrial robots. Domestic enterprises import foreign parts for assembly and production, and most of the profits from the sales of complete machines are still taken away by foreign manufacturers. In response to this phenomenon, Hou Zhijun said that industrial robots of domestic independent brands can only be used for low-end products. There are only a handful of high-end intelligent industrial robots that are really used in automobile manufacturing, and they are mainly controlled by foreign brand manufacturers such as Japan’s Fanuc, KUKA, and ABB, and are used to develop their own markets. So, from the national level to the local government, with such a high enthusiasm for industrial robots, why not support industry research and development to make the national or local industrial robot industry bigger and stronger? Chen Zhijun said, “This will only kill more companies”, because local governments The government is not a national scientific research institution, it is more about local taxation, and at the same time of limited funds, it needs to play a greater role. Local governments can support a certain industry to become bigger, instead of gathering talents to develop a certain product, which cannot be done by local governments to make a certain industry stronger. Secondly, when the government invests money in some enterprises, it is obvious that there is no way out. In the end, the local government is empty of talents, and the enterprises engaged in R&D also lose out. This is an era where time and speed determine success or failure. Even if it is developed three or five years later, foreign products have already been updated, and domestic related industries are still lagging behind.
Song Xiaogang said: “It is impossible to rely on the government’s special funds and policies to solve the problem of independent innovation of enterprises. Enterprises must have the ability and strength to support the development of enterprises through market profits. The government is only a promoter, not an athlete. Some companies rely on government subsidies to survive, and they spend all day pondering the application of special government funds, and they will never do it for long.” Chen Zhijun said that the technological research and development and functions of Chinese industrial robots cannot be compared with foreign products. National key large enterprises.
Robot system integration application cake is very large
The so-called robot system integration is equivalent to the program and software in the computer. In layman’s terms, a robot is just one hand, but to allow him to participate in the production line flexibly and accurately, it is necessary to integrate many robots together through a series of programs or instructions according to the labor force and the operation line of the application company. Manual and orderly participation in production operations, robot system integration is not a manufacturer or an agent in the traditional sense. They have a certain technical strength, and they do peripheral support and equipment integration around robots, and are specially designed for technology upgrading and transformation. Application enterprises. Song Xiaogang said: “China will need a group of service providers in different fields to do robot system integration applications in the future.” The industrial robot market will definitely be reshuffled, and in the end, there may be a dozen or two dozen companies that make complete machines and parts. . But there will be a lot of room for real integrated applications, because China’s manufacturing industry is large enough. For example, food, home appliances, home furnishing, clothing, sanitary ware, etc. in the light industry need a large number of robot system integration applications. Therefore, robot system integration is generally considered to be the easiest link in the field of industrial robots. Relevant data shows that 88% of Chinese robot-related enterprises are system integrators, and by 2020, the domestic robot system integration market will reach 200 billion yuan.
Song Xiaogang said: “The market price of robots is transparent enough, and the profit is limited.” The four major international robot families, ABB, KUKA, FANUC and Yaskawa, have strategically cooperated with a large number of domestic robot system integrators to expand the robot sales market. In the fields of automobile and electronic manufacturing, we provide enterprise customers with services related to robot system integration. Taking KUKA as an example, as a German industrial robot giant, it was acquired by Midea in early 2017 and completed the transfer of equity. In addition to robots, it has already expanded its territory in the field of robot system integration services. In each branch of each province and city in the country, according to the characteristics of local economic development, it selectively focuses on a certain field and gradually forms a dominant enterprise. In the future, robot system integration will also be the mainstream industry in the field of industrial robots.
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