You are here:   Home/ Development News/ Highlights

Robots Help Counter Soaring Labor Costs

China Daily, November 14, 2013 Adjust font size:

Li said robot sales in China accounted for 21 percent of the world's total in 2012, and he estimates that the country will become the largest robot market in the next year or two.

Experts ruled out the possibility of robots triggering job losses.

Feng Xiliang, deputy dean of the school of labor economics at Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing, said using more robots is a rational choice made by companies to tackle the labor shortage.

"But there are jobs that cannot be managed by robots at the moment," Feng said, adding that fewer jobs for humans in the industrial sector could release extra labor for the booming service sector, which has a much greater capacity for employment.

However, using robots still doesn't appear to be a cost-effective choice for some enterprises, with the high initial investment remaining a main concern for business owners in Zhejiang, especially for cash-strapped smaller companies.

The commission's survey found that only 17 percent of enterprises are willing to pay more than 10 million yuan to implement the robot substitution strategy, with most expecting to recover the investment within two to three years.

More than 80 percent believe government subsidies should be granted for robot purchases, while more than half the respondents said they will only consider buying robots if such an incentive is introduced.

Most said robots are the choice for large companies and that using human labor is still generally cheaper than buying robots.

"Demand for robots will be strong in China," said Wang Tianmiao, head of the expert panel on robot technology under the State High-Tech Development Plan. "We've only seen the tip of the iceberg. Use of robots will penetrate many sectors, such as telecommunications and healthcare."

With a flourishing robot market, Wang said, prices will be more transparent and acceptable for buyers as domestic robot companies emerge.

Ma Longguan, president of Shenyin and Wanguo Securities, said the number of robots shared per 10,000 workers averages 55 globally, nearly 350 in South Korea and Japan, but in China it is only 21.

"South Korea's industrial robot market developed quickly when the country's per capita GDP hit US$6,000," Ma said. "China's per capita GDP is now US$6,700, so we are just at the start of a market boom."

     1   2  

Bookmark and Share

Related News & Photos