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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Israel-China robotics

The Israeli Robotics Association, IROB has identified China as an important market for the Israeli robotics industry and aims at promoting the local robotics industry through robotics education, encouraging entrepreneurship in the field, and assisting in international cooperation. According to Zvi Shalgo, chairman of the Israeli Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, large local companies in China are now investing in robotics and automation, because of the dramatic increase in wages. The Chinese government has identified robotics and automation as a top priority area in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) and will finance the automation of the current manufacturing lines. Chinese companies that are currently considered inferior compared to foreign competitors, are likely to become leader in their fields.

Since the new regulation of labor laws in China, which led to a radical increase in salaries, many enterprises have collapsed. The Chinese industry sees robots as a solution to the diminishing workforce problem. Due to the policy of 'one child' in China, the working age population shrinks, which will naturally lose the demographic advantage.

According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) China has quadrupled its annual supply of industrial robots between 2006-2011, and now sits just ahead of the US but behind Korea and Japan. IFR predicts that China will become the world’s biggest consumer of robots by 2014, with supply expected to jump from 22,600 in 2011 to 32,000 units.

The Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn is already looking to replace some of their staff with robots. The company apparently had around 10,000 industrial robots on the production line in 2010 and was planning to ramp that number up to 300,000 by the end of 2012 and one million units by 2014.

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