With China’s electronics manufacturing industry developing in leaps and bounds each year, the country has become the world’s unrivaled electronics manufacturing hub.
Yet with this ascent comes a raft of new challenges. Rapid technological development, pressure from rising operational costs and growing demand for highly efficient and flexible machinery, mean that electronics manufacturing automation equipment is increasingly sought after across the industry.
Indeed, with the transition from “Made in China” to “Created in China,” a boom in electronics manufacturing automation can be seen. For example, Zoomlion has begun to purchase welding robots to replace expensive welders and West China Energy will add industrial automation equipment to its production line. Also, Foxconn, a key operator in this labor-intensive industry, has announced plans to replace manual labor with 1 million robots over the next three years.
Electronics Manufacturing Automation Equipment: The Answer to Labor Shortages
The recently concluded NEPCON South China 2012 exhibition showed that, in the face of rising operational costs, especially those for labor, buyers are showing a preference for automation equipment, particularly for use in electronics manufacturing.
Speaking at the exhibition, Huang Shuiling, Manager of Rapoo’s Automation Department, said, “With such fierce competition in the keyboard and mouse market, the only way to make a decent profit is to lower manufacturing costs. For that reason, we ’ve introduced automatic production technologies in our keyboard manufacturing processes. During this exhibition, we’ve seen many leading suppliers with cutting-edge technologies, as well as many of the latest products and equipment. We’re increasingly interested in fields like robots, robot components and automatic packaging technologies.”
Many buyers visited NEPCON South China 2012 for electronics manufacturing automation equipment. They were impressed by the important role the equipment played in reducing labor costs and improving production efficiency.
Recently, because of acute labor shortages, pay continues to rise. In this sluggish macro economy, this is driving profits down, particularly for labor-intensive enterprises. The resultant pressure has led many manufacturers to consolidate automation equipment upgrades, raise automation production, cut workforce sizes and improve the working environment.
According to Wang Xiangfa, Workshop Administrator at Wenzhou Gangyuan Electronics, “One piece of electronics manufacturing automation equipment can replace more than 20 workers. During the two-year automation upgrade, the number of employees in our workshop fell from 1,280 at the end of 2009 to 420. At the same time, annual output is up 20%.” Electronics manufacturing automation upgrades have brought real benefits to labor-intensive enterprises.
Automation Deployment to Boost Industrial Upgrades
Su Bo, Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Industry & Information Technology, pointed out that, in line with global economic conditions, international socioeconomic development is undergoing constant changes. These are generating huge opportunities and challenges for industry and exerting a profound influence on industrial transformation and upgrades. In China, development, motivation and long-term positive trends remain intact, but traditional development patterns are facing a number of challenges, so industrial structure optimization, transformation and upgrades are assured.
In the 12th Five-Year Plan, the transformation of the economic development model remains key. To do this, automatic production levels must rise. In coming years, automation will develop and spread rapidly. Experts point out that, with the development of industrial automation, China’s industrial structure upgrades and technological improvements will have greater motivation and more diversified choices. In turn, the transformation from a traditional industrialization path based on scale growth, to a new path dependent on technological progress and sustainable development, will be accelerated.
Automation renovation is the main way to transform and upgrade China’s manufacturing industry. This includes design, manufacturing, marketing and other functions. Automation equipment has become popular in factories, boosted by a number of technological upgrades. With the transition to production automation, electronics manufacturing automation equipment, like industrial robots, is expected to make a huge impact on the market.
Electronics Manufacturing Automation Industry to Embrace Explosive Growth
A new report from IMS Research has found that the market scale of China’s automation control systems, including PLC, machine vision, human-computer interfaces, servo, step drives and middle and low voltage motors, as well as industrial computers, will reach RMB 131.1 billion (USD 21 billion) in 2013, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12%. Of this, the PLC equipment market will be worth RMB 14 billion (USD 2.2 billion), with a CAGR of over 20%.
As China’s electronics manufacturing industry is upgraded, industrial robots, machine vision and other systems will see unprecedented development. Data from the International Federation of Robotics shows that China imported 14,978 industrial robots in 2010, up 171% since 2009. China’s annual supply of industrial robots is third in the world; it is also the fastest growing robot market. Gongkong.com shows that the sales volume of China’s industrial robots saw a year-on-year growth of 51%. Between 2010 and 2011. The growth rate of this market is expected to continue at an approximate annual rate of 28%.
In recent years, the world’s advanced robot enterprises have turned their attention to China’s massive market. Apart from long-established industry giants like FANUC, ABB and Kawasaki, companies like Universal Robots (Denmark) entered the China market in 2011.
In January 2012, Epson signed a strategic partnership agreement with Harbin Institute of Technology on industrial robot R&D, achievement transformation, cooperation and promotion. On March 6, Yaskawa Electric, the world’s largest industrial robot production company, established a China location to manage the development, design and production of industrial robot equipment, accessories and parts. March also saw the settlement of the California-based Adept Technology set up its first China subsidiary in Shanghai: Adept Robot Trading (Shanghai) Ltd.
Speaking of the fast adoption of electronics production automation systems into manufacturing, Thomas Huang, Assistant Vice President of Reed Exhibitions, said, “Well-known local and international manufacturers in electronics automation equipment production attach great value to the Chinese market. This means that the number of electronics manufacturing automation exhibits at NEPCON events continue to grow, year by year.”
NEPCON China 2012 featured a dedicated electronics manufacturing automation pavilion that comprehensively showcased application solutions featuring the most advanced technologies and products. This made the show China’s only trade and purchasing platform to provide automation solutions for electronics manufacturers and suppliers.
NEPCON China 2013 will take place between April 23 and April 25 at the Shanghai World Expo Convention & Exhibition Center. Over 500 leading local and international electronics manufacturers are expected on-site, to showcase various electronics assembly and packaging equipment in the 34,000 sqm exhibition hall.
Thomas Huang confirms that Reed Exhibitions, the organizers of NEPCON China 2013, will invest more resources and again host the electronics manufacturing automation pavilion to feature robot and motion control equipment, electronics manufacturing automation equipment / accessories, conveyors, tools, assembly equipment, materials, quality control applications, laser gears and more.
As China starts a new round of economic development, the rate of industrial upgrades, optimization of economic structure and transformation of industrial growth is gathering pace. So is the integration of industrialization and information. The technological and manufacturing capabilities of traditional industry are on the rise, as is the number of new industries. The electronics manufacturing automation revolution is being hailed as the driving force behind transforming the China brand from “Made in China” to “Created in China”.