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Automation Technologies 3/2015

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Automation Technologies 3/2015


NEWS AND MARKETS The robots are coming Gerald Scheffels The delta of the Pearl River is the world´s biggest metropol region and the “export powerhouse” of China. Here, the transformation to a higher degree of automation is in full course. So could there be a better place than Shenzhen for a show which presents the latest trends in industrial automation? The highest per-capita income in China, tremendous growth of the city (from just 30,000 inhabitants in 1979 to more that 13 million today) and the core of the na-tional electronics and communication industry: This is, in short, Shenzhen. And there is more to say about the economic power of the city and its surround-ings. In the south, Shenzhen borders on Hong Kong, and the “megacity” itself is part of Guangdong which is, economy-wise, the most powerful province in China with a GDP that has been contantly rising with impressive numbers for the last 25 years. It is not exaggerated to say that Shenzhen is the central area of the trademark “Made in China” – especially in the fields of electronic communication, metal ge-neral machinery equipment, automobile manufacturing and medical treatment. An industry in transformation Getting the bigger picture, i.e. looking at the whole province of Guangdong, there is no arguing that an industrial fair has its right place right here. Because in Gua-ngdong, about 30 % of the whole country´s exportes are produced. The province has the highest number of manufacturing sites and a high degree of very dynamic privatelyowned enterprises. It may be considered as a fundamental truth of economic science that successful economies move from manual to more automated way of manufacturing. In parral-lel to the GDP, wages and the the standard of living are rising – in May 2015, the minimum wages in China are lifted by 19 %! This also raises the prices of the pro-ducts and opens up chances for competing nations – which should not be considered as a vicious circle but as the normal course of events. And there is a clear solution for keeping up the competitiveness: industrial automation! “Made in China 2025” This development is in due course in Guangdong which might well be seen as the “model province” of modern China. Just some examples: In March 2015, Author: Gerald Scheffels, specilized journalist, Wuppertal, Germany

premier minister Li Keqiang has presented the concept of innovation-based growth under the headline “Made in China 2025”. Guangdong already has started to move into this direction. There are many innovative companies like Huawei and BYD which do not serve as “the world´s wortkbench” but delevop own and highly competiti-ve products. Simultaneously, the industry is constantly raising the levels of automation. Since 2013, China has become the world´s biggest market for industrial robots. Many of them are installed in Guangdong. The province encourage the industry and reckons that in 2020, more that 80 % of the products from Guangdong will be manufactured with robots or other higly automated production devices. An example: Guangdongbased Midea, manufacturer of household equipment like white goods and air-conditioning systems, already employs 800 robots, in 2015 there will be 600 more. Many companies have set up similar plans to keep up their competitiveness and also raise the quality and brand value of their products. Need for information and potential for growth What does this mean, to take a different view, for the manufacturers of automation equipment? They can expect a high degree of interest when they are presenting their products, systems and solutions in this region. This is true for the complete process chain of automation – from CAD design to connectors, swithgear, drive systems machine safety equipment, control systems, handling systems and robots of different type. It is, thus, not astonishing that many “global players” from Europe and America, but even more domestic specialists for industrial automation will present their competence at the Industrial Automation Shenzhen show. Jumping to the next level The exhibitors may expect visitors who clearly see the need to move forward to a higher degree of automation. In other words: Costs have to be cut, at the same times products are more complex, and the demand for quality is rising. So, the many manufacturers in Shenzhen and its surroundings have to find ways to raise productivity and efficiency. Industrial automation is the best solution for this chal-lenge. Pure theory? No. Demand for automation will rise and is already rising. European manufacturers like Kuka have set up factories in China. When Kuka´s local robot production started in 2013, it already had acquired orders for more than 1,300 robots. In the first two years, production increased to a level that Kuka has just announced that it is already planning a second plant – being sure that China will be the most expansive market for industrial robots until, at least, 2020. According to the aforementioned strategy “Made in China 2025”, Chinese com-panies are entering this future-orientated markets with own products. Just one example: Foxconn China´s biggest private employer is apparently developing own robots. Rumours say that 10,000 “foxbots” shall populate the Foxconn sites in due time. Many other examples will be seen at Industrial Automation Shenzhen which gives room for a high number of domestic and, for sure, Shenzhen-based companies who offer products and solutions for industrial automation. Industry 4.0 – a vision for domestic industry? It will be an interesting task for the visitor to find out if tehre are different approaches toward automation between Chinese and non-Chinese enterprises. And it remains to be seen whether new concepts like “Industry 4.0” or the “Internet of things” are discussed in the cinhese automation community. The show in Shenz-hen will be the ideal place to find out! All in all, the South Chinese manufacturing specialists who visit the “Industrial Automation Shenzhen 2015” will definitely find new ways to increase the produc-tivity of their companies – and to develop new markets and new technologies which increase their competitiveness. Photographs: teaser fotolia www. AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGIES 3/2015