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Collaboration will ensure exciting future

2014-08-11 14:34 China Daily Web Editor: Qin Dexing

Robots are now considered an important indicator of a country's level of automation and are even seen by some as the "jewels in the crown of manufacturing".

The performance of countries in researching, building and putting robots to work is increasingly seen as a barometer of their innovative abilities and industrial success.

The US, Japan, South Korea and other leading manufacturing economies have slotted the robot industry into their national strategies for development, and as a result their technology levels have matured and their exports have grown.

Now it is time for China's robotics era to come of age, to mature into an industry worth potentially trillions of dollars that will have a profound effect on global manufacturing.

It has already grown rapidly in recent years, the result of both government help and private endeavor, and some companies have enjoyed great success, laying the foundation for a solid future.

But clearly, compared with some of the developed countries, there is a big gap in skills to be filled.

Our use of robots is much lower and our core technology much weaker, meaning the quality of core components and reliability of products lag our international rivals.

The country still relies on importing many robot parts, and we are still at the exploratory stage of researching the future use of our own technology.

Today, about 90 percent of robots sold in China are internationally produced. They have better precision, reliability and longer service lives than domestic equivalents, and much ground has to be made up in terms of credibility, market share and added economic value.

China is now at a crucial stage in its industrial transformation, and the robot industry-as a leading high-end manufacturing industry-can play an important role in that process.

As the world's economies continue to become better connected, the robot industry's development presents a great opportunity for closer global collaboration.

With China now considered the world's biggest robot market, I can suggest a number of vital steps that need to be taken.

First, China's major robot companies should establish a wider, global vision for the sector and plan for a future based on sensible industry demand.

They should invest in scientific development strategies that accurately reflect robotic industry trends to ensure investment is made in the most appropriate areas. They must be willing to import the very latest technologies, management styles and service modes from their international peers to improve their core technology, and to train the best industry talent available in the latest robot applications, in conjunction with international companies.

The Chinese companies should also be aware of creating a whole robot industry chain, paying close attention to the vital links within that chain, such as robot manufacture, component supply, parts and service.

Second, overseas companies should be encouraged to engage in the development of China's robot industry.

That should include creating more agreements to help Chinese companies improve their levels of technology, technical education, brand building and marketing.

As China's robot market is still relatively immature, it needs both local and international companies to cultivate the market together, and also deepen their cooperation in its regulation. Independent industry bodies should work more closely together, too.

A good example of this came in April, when the China Robot Industry Alliance joined forces with the International Federation of Robotics on agreements with associations from other countries and regions such as South Korea and Taiwan.

The alliance now has more than 140 corporate members, and such associations should set up platforms for member companies and industry peers to communicate better with each other.

They should monitor industry changes and carry out statistical studies.

They should also be working to create industry standards and regulations that member companies can adhere to, so the market can grow in an orderly manner.

It is vital for the industry to create innovation and technology exchange platforms, so their latest products and applications can be shared and viewed internationally. This would help Chinese companies develop overseas links and learn from each other.

Problems that occur could be discussed and industry developments highlighted, so companies could better understand local issues and act appropriately to solve them, working alongside related government departments.

With this overall united approach to the industry, with domestic and international companies, and industry organizations working together, China's, and the world's, robotics market can look forward to a prosperous and exciting future.

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