The war on robots still favors Japan and Europe

Covid-19 has accelerated automation in factories, especially manufacturing powerhouses in China. Foreign companies have long dominated the market for industrial robots and automation tools there – but there are signs that they are gaining ground around the edges.

As the world’s factory, China is surprisingly far from the largest market for industrial robots. Prior to the outbreak, however, the US-China trade war was slowing growth. According to the International Federation of Robotics, the number of new industrial robot installations in 2019 reached 140,500, down 9% from the previous year, but still the number three in Japan is three times higher. Last year’s prospects were even better: Credit Suisse estimates that China’s industrial robotics market will grow 9.5% in 2020.

Covid-19 initially closed factories in China, but as the epidemic slowly spread in the country, demand for automation equipment returned. Rising sales of consumer electronics and electric vehicles have also boosted demand for automation products.

According to Citi, foreign companies such as Japan’s Phoenix and Europe’s ABB control about three-quarters of China’s industrial robot market. But there are growing hopes in China that the government will put more emphasis on local content in the robotics and automation supply chain. Stocks of Chinese automation companies have rallied. For example, shares of Shenzhen Invincible Technology have tripled since the beginning of 2020. Shares of industrial robot maker Aston Automation also held a rally.

Last year, Chinese automation companies won market share as covid-19 cut off the supply chain to foreign competitors. Citi estimates that China’s market share of inventory in servo motors, which is used to control precise mobility, has risen to more than 16% in 2020, up from 11% in 2019 and 3% in 2013. The percentage was. The company also recorded a strong increase in its electric vehicle. Motor business, which bears some resemblance to servo motors. In the first nine months of 2020, the company’s net profit nearly doubled year on year.

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