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商业 - 科技

机器人将“接管”中国制造业

Robert Hackett 2015年07月09日

中国制造业找到了一个绝佳的外包方:机器人。尽管中国的劳工成本仍相对较低,但平均工资持续上涨。为降低成本,许多行业,特别是汽车和电子工业,选择用更便宜的机器人来代替人力。自2013年起,中国一直是全球最大的机器人设备市场,目前每1万名制造工人就配备有30个工业机器人。

2015年5月18日,在中国浙江省义乌一家机器人主题餐厅内,一名“男性”机器人服务员为顾客上菜。

    自动化正在席卷中国。最初,中国承接了全世界的大量制造任务,如今正在把这些任务外包给机器人。

    自2013年起,中国一直是全球最大的机器人设备市场。现在,这种兴趣也丝毫未见消退。《华尔街日报》援引国际机器人协会的数据称,去年中国的机械销量同比猛增54%。明年,中国安装的机器人设备数量预计将超过任何其他国家。

    是什么推动了这一转型?尽管亚洲的劳动力成本仍然相对较低,但它最近一直处于上升趋势。《商业日报》报道称,经济学家预计亚洲劳动力的平均工资今年将提高10%。为了降低成本,雇主开始用更便宜的机器人来代替人力。

    国际机器人协会预计,到2017年,投入使用的机器人数量将翻一番,从现在的20万增加到40万。另一方面,北美的机器人数量也将增加至30万左右。

    汽车和电子工业是率先进行劳动力自动化的行业。例如,为苹果生产iPhone的台湾制造业巨头富士康预计,在接下来的3年内,70%的装配线工作将由机器人接替。国际机器人协会的一份文件这样总结全球对机器人激增的需求:

    “这种动力主要来自亚洲,尤其是中国,以及北美地区。汽车业将继续成为新技术的创新源头。全球对电子产品、新产品和新生产技术的需求越来越大,会促使人们投资改善现有的生产过程,提高电器/电子工业的生产能力,尤其是在亚洲。”

    目前,中国每1万名制造工人配备有30个工业用机器人,这一数值是2013年的两倍。

    专家把这项指标称作“机器人密度”。相较之下,韩国有着全球最高的机器人密度,每1万名制造工人配备437个工业用机器人,是中国的15倍,日本是中国的11倍,德国是10倍,美国大约是3倍。

    今年1月接受国际机器人协会采访时,ABB Robotics公司执行董事倪思德表示:“中国生产设备的自动化只是刚刚起步。从第一家外国机器人制造商落户这里开始,我们观察了这个市场及其发展好几年时间。过去两三年中,中国机器人使用数量几乎爆炸式的迅速增长,甚至超出了我们的预计。”

    业内的观察家认为亚洲的机器人市场,如中国、韩国和其他东南亚国家等,能够保持高速发展的态势。国际机器人协会预测称,“这一市场仍有巨大的潜力。”(财富中文网)

    译者:严匡正

    审校:任文科

    Automation is taking China by storm. First, the country hoovered up many of the world’s manufacturing jobs, and now it is, in turn, outsourcing that work to robots.

    Since 2013, China has topped the list as the world’s biggest market for robotic machinery. That appetite is not subsiding. The country’s sales for the machines surged 54% last year compared to the year prior, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cites statistics from the International Federation of Robotics. Next year, China is poised to have installed more robotic machines than any other country, the paper reports.

    What’s driving the transition? Even though the cost of labor in Asia remains relatively low, it has been on the rise recently. Economists anticipate average wages to grow 10% this year, according to the Journal of Commerce. In order to keep costs own, employers are trading humans for cheaper robots.

    By 2017, the IFR expects the number of robots in operation to double to 400,000 from today’s 200,000. North America, on the other hand, will grow to have about 300,000.

    The automotive and electronics industries are leading the charge in workforce automation. The Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn, which supplies iPhones for Apple AAPL -0.22% , for instance, predicts that 70% of its assembly line work will be taken over by robots three years from now. As an IFR document summarizes about the explosive demand for robots worldwide:

    “Impetus will mainly come from Asia, particularly from China, and from North America. The automotive industry will continue to be the innovator for new technology. The growing global demand for electronic products, new products, and new production technologies are boosting investments in retooling of existing production processes and expanding production capacities of the electrical/electronics industry particularly in Asia.”

    At the moment, China has 30 industrial robots for every 10,000 manufacturing workers—about double what it had in 2013.

    Experts refer to this figure “robot density.” In comparison, South Korea has the world’s highest robot density at 437 robots per 10,000 manufacturing workers, which is about 15 times greater than China’s. Japan’s is about 11 times greater than China’s; Germany’s is 10 times higher; and the United States’ is about three times higher.

    “The automation of China’s production plants has just started”, ABB Robotics managing director Per Vegard Nerseth told IFR in January. “As the first foreign robot manufacturer to arrive here, we have observed the market and developments for years now. We have witnessed swift, almost explosive growth over the last two or three years, surpassing even our expectations.”

    Industry watchers are expecting major growth to continue in Asian markets such as China, Korea, and other Southeast Asian countries. As the IFR forecasts, “The potential for robot installations in this market is still tremendous.”

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