China is currently the country with the largest number of applied robots, but its industrial development is relatively small and its competitiveness is weak. It should play a key role in the robot industry and enhance the international competitiveness of China's robot industry. Wu Xinzhang, a tenured professor of the Department of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Central Florida, said in an exclusive interview with the China Securities Journal. "The level of the domestic robot industry is still in the Internet industry to the level of 1995, but the industry has huge room for growth." China Robotics Industry It is expected to use the "Made in China 2025" to achieve overtaking.
The development of the robot industry is huge
Wu Xinzhang pointed out that in the past decade or so, the United States has attached great importance to advanced manufacturing, and in recent years has also called for the return of manufacturing. "The return of American manufacturing" largely refers to the use of robots instead of manual labor. "In the next ten years, the United States will also vigorously promote advanced manufacturing, cutting into new fields such as precision medicine, brain programs, advanced automobiles, smart cities, clean energy, energy-saving technologies, educational technology, space exploration, and computers. Will play an important role."
And China's high-end manufacturing industry has also ushered in a rare historical opportunity. Wu Xinzhang said that the government attaches importance to "mass entrepreneurship and innovation", which brings a good environment for industrial development. China's robot industry is expected to take advantage of the "Made in China 2025" strategic opportunity to achieve cornering overtaking. However, the investment in China's industrial capital in the field of robotics is currently less than one percent of the total capital, and there is huge room for investment and development in the future. At the same time, China's industrial system is complete and the industrial chain is complete, providing good conditions for manufacturing end products. “In the past year or so, hundreds of robot companies have been born in China, and many VCs are actively following up.”
Motor technology is the "heart" of the industry
“This wave of air outlets should be called “intelligent electromechanical systems.” Regardless of robots, drones or simple electric vehicles, it is actually a motor-based drive system. This is why the motor industry is called the robotics field. Pearl, the heart of the industry." Wu Xinzhang said.
The development of the motor field is crucial, but currently Chinese robotics companies are still using foreign motors. Luo Jun, CEO of the International Robotics and Intelligent Equipment Industry Alliance, said that China relies heavily on imports for medium and high-end reducers, controllers and motors.
Wu Xinzhang said that China's motor quality still does not reach the most advanced level in foreign countries. "Motor production is not only a design problem, but also a process problem. The domestic process has not solved the problem of process production, especially mass production. Although the current process of national defense manufacturing is sufficient, the accuracy of civil motors needs to be improved."
For example, mechanical ball bearings, domestic companies are still using finished products from other countries. Without good bearings, electromechanical systems cannot achieve good performance with high speed, high power, low vibration and long life. "Japan Yaskawa Electric Co., Ltd. produces motors and also produces robots. We can buy his motors to make their own robots. If the price of the motor is greatly increased, the robots we make will have no advantage in cost."
In addition, the technology of each company is rarely "publicly available". "Everyone is not talking about technology, and can't find patents. There are fewer related papers." Wu Xinzhang said that in the United States, many large technology companies are "captive". "A group of technology elites, but many core technology is often in the hands of some small companies. These companies usually have strong innovation capabilities. They have a single product, but they have enough core customers and do not seek to expand rapidly into a business empire. In the face of operational difficulties, the government will receive special funding to ensure the continuity of its innovative capabilities. "How to learn from international experience, it is especially important to produce domestically produced excellent motors and core components."
For the future development of the industry, Wu Xinzhang believes that there will be huge room for growth from both horizontal and vertical dimensions. In the horizontal direction, the intelligent electromechanical system is not only a certain terminal product, but more importantly, it brings the prosperity of the entire industrial chain, including robot assembly, motor, reducer, battery, robot control, software, big data, artificial intelligence, etc. Plate. From a vertical perspective, the above-mentioned sectors can be subdivided into several specialized fields. For example, the motor field is subdivided into research and development and driving; the big data field is subdivided into big data software and pattern recognition; and semiconductors include machining and supply. “Each segment is ultimately connected by the company, and each segment will present different M&A styles and characteristics.”
Internet companies quietly laid out
"Different from the software industry, the development of hardware faces the problem of production capacity. It is necessary to invest enough, open enough plants, buy enough high-quality CNC machine tools, and first-class technology to produce high-quality end products." Wu Xinzhang said .
In recent years, Google has successively acquired several high-end robot companies, attracting widespread attention from the industry; Sun Zhengyi, the Japanese richest man who injected the first bucket of gold into Ma, has also begun to invest in robotics; Ma Yun is also preparing to get involved in this field.
“Capital, especially Internet companies, have begun to quietly deploy,” Wu Xinzhang said. “The Internet has made software and communication very convenient and developed over the past 20 years. In the next few decades, there will be a big breakthrough in the hardware field.”
According to the current international popular practice, many large-scale technology companies often enter the core high-quality enterprises in the industry through cross-border acquisition or become a major shareholder, and then obtain core technologies and then integrate resources. For example, it cooperates with well-known universities to form a production process integrating production, education and research. “China does not lack capital. When capital enters a new professional field, it needs expert guidance and finally finds a good effect on the market.” Wu Xinzhang predicts that future robot development will subdivide many different sub-areas, each of which The field will be fully competitive and continuous industrial mergers, and this merger is even carried out in the context of internationalization. Investors must not only invest in a startup with growth potential, but also build, restructure, and integrate resources at the meso level.