As the workforce grows older and more demanding, the long anticipated rise of industrial robots in China may finally be at hand. Paul Mozur and Eva Dou at The Wall Street Journal:
Over the next five years these technologies will transform China’s factories, executives say, and also fill a growing labor shortage as the country’s youth become increasingly unwilling to perform manual labor. How the transformation plays out will also go a long way in deciding how much of the electronics supply chain remains in China.
[…] But some industry executives caution that China’s automation shift will likely take years and there are plenty of challenges, including the high price of advanced robots, continuing technical limitations and even the lack of flexibility that comes with bringing robots into the factory.
[…] Even Foxconn, the industry’s loudest proponent of automation, continues to rely on city-sized factories where more than 1.1 million workers do the bulk of the assembly of iPhones and other devices by hand. Foxconn originally planned to install 1 million robotic arms in its factories by 2014, but executives said it would take much longer to reach that target. [Source]
WSJ’s Neil Wade also posted a slideshow of robots from Taiwanese firm Delta. See also Economic Observer’s recent overview of foreign and domestic robotmakers’ efforts to seize the Chinese market, paired at CDT with an examination of the changing demographics and attitudes of the country’s human workers.