Siasun accelerates overseas expansion as orders increase from foreign firms
Siasun Robot & Automation Co, the largest listed Chinese robot maker by market valuation, is ramping up resources to expand its presence in overseas markets by securing more contracts from foreign companies.
From a team of robots which assemble various car parts for General Motors at an automobile plant in Canada to a Russian warehouse which gets the ultra-modern edge with the help of an advanced automated logistics system, Siasun's products and services are getting increasingly popular in foreign countries.
In Malaysia, a real estate company uses the company's service robots to welcome prospective homebuyers to a popular apartment and wax eloquently on the flat's unique features. In Singapore, the company's heavy-loaded automated guided vehicles are being used in one of the world's largest ports.
After 19 years of international development, Siasun's products are currently available in more than 30 countries and regions. Moreover, two-thirds of Siasun's customers are foreign companies. Its industrial robots are exported to Europe and North America, and its service robots are gaining increasing popularity in Southeast Asia and countries in the Middle East.
It is also one of the few Chinese robot makers that have gained the confidence of global auto giants, becoming a supplier to General Motors, Ford, BMW, Jaguar and Land Rover.
With constant progress in research and development, Siasun is now seeking to push its go-global efforts to a new high.
Qu Daokui, president of Siasun, said: "Chinese robot makers must go global. The industry is so globalized and changing so fast that no one knows what a robot will look like in five to seven years from now. If we focus only on the home turf, we will die out."
The company currently has established four production bases in China and set up more than 20 service organizations around the world. With its businesses growing rapidly in overseas, the company plans to build eight world-class research and development and innovation centers.
In 2016, Siasun bought Teutloff Training and Welding Education Non-profit Ltd Liability Company, a leading German mechanical engineering vocational school, for an undisclosed sum. The deal gave the company access to Germany's decades of experience in vocational training.
It has also teamed up with Israeli companies and universities for a China-Israel robot research institute in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. They are making joint efforts in the R&D of technologies such as artificial intelligence which Qu billed as of great importance. AI gives robots "wings", he said.
Wang Tianmiao, president of the Smart Manufacturing Research Institute at Beihang University, said technological progress is helping accelerate the global expansion of Chinese robot makers.
"But greater international cooperation on R&D is needed to crack the high-end overseas market," Wang said.
Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, the nation's top industry regulator, also said that China will ramp up resources to strengthen international cooperation as it strives to build a globally competitive robotics industry and accelerate the use of smart machines in manufacturing, healthcare and other sectors.
China's domestic robot industry has long been facing obstacles such as heavy reliance on crucial components from foreign companies. But according to the ministry, last year, about 50 percent of domestic robots were equipped with homegrown servomotors, a key element in sophisticated automated machines, solving some of the technological bottlenecks that impede the whole industry's development.
Siasun had also unveiled its latest in-house control panels in 2017, which are equipped with AI capabilities. The company entered the medical robot sector in 2017.
According to the International Federation of Robotics, despite slowing growth in the shipment of industrial robots worldwide, collaborative industrial robots, known as "cobots", are expected to become a growth engine for the industrial robots sector, and China will take center stage in the new trend.
Cobots are designed to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace, in contrast to most industrial robots used nowadays, which are often seen sitting behind safety barriers at factories. Cobots' ability to collaborate with human beings is more suitable for meeting the needs of industries with more specific, flexible or personal requirements.
Susanne Bieller, secretary-general of the International Federation of Robotics, said in an earlier interview with China Daily that "Chinese suppliers are strong in exploring industry sectors beyond automotive and electronics, which opens up a potentially unlimited market, and makes the robotics industry less susceptible to any risks caused by weaker phases in single industries".
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