67,000 Robots in Use in China in 2015; Expected to Double by 2018

Robots are increasingly playing a bigger role in Chinese factories, where technological advances have lowered the cost of robot parts significantly, with some now costing 88 percent less than they did in 2006. These lower costs are giving manufacturers the incentive to invest in these technologies as worker salaries rise and the labor force ages, according to an article in CBRE’s “Viewpoint,” written by David Egan, Americas head of industrial and logistics research, and Matthew Walaszek, senior research analyst, global industrial and logistics research.

“China is going through a robot revolution,” according to the report, “prompted by demand for automation in its manufacturing sector. There are two important driving forces behind the trend. First, China’s population is aging—its workforce aged 16-59 is shrinking, having dropped by a record 4.87 million last year, to 911 million, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). That’s significant growth from 2014’s decline of 3.71 million. The United Nations forecasts that China’s workforce will fall below 800 million by 2050. This will coincide with a drop in the number of migrant workers. According to NBS, rural-to-urban migration of workers has decreased for the first time in 30 years, having declined by 5.67 million in 2015, to 247 million.”

The cost of labor is the second key factor. Labor costs more than doubled between 2000 and 2015. That has caused China to become less attractive to manufacturers. China, according to the report, is non-competitive in low-cost industries such as textiles and garments, compared to other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh and India.

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