Fanuc to spend $240m to grow its Shanghai robot plant five-fold
Published 24 March 2021
Japanese robot maker Fanuc is planning to spend $240 million to grow its Shanghai plant.
Ahead of China’s factory automation boom, Fanuc seeks to fortify its leading market share of 12 per cent by deploying a 26-billion-yen ($240 million) project to expand its Shanghai’s plant five-fold, according to a Nikkei Asia report.
The venture is jointly invested by Fanuc and local player Shanghai Electric Group over the next three years. It aims to tap into the heightening demand for robots in China’s manufacturing sector during the post-pandemic recovery.
They plan to expand its existing plant to an area of 340,000 sq. meters, where the assembly and configuration of robotic arms are completed and tailored for specific customer applications. The new facility will also deploy the latest manufacturing processes, including machine learning, digital and collaborative solutions.
Fanuc’s headquarters in Japan will keep manufacturing the high-quality main parts of robots and export them to Shanghai. According to the International Federation of Robotics, new robots are still mainly imported to China from foreign suppliers, representing 71 per cent of the total new units.
In 2019, IFR recorded the installation of about 783,000 industrial robot units in China, placed 1st among the 15 largest markets in the world. Though insiders are witnessing a decline in new robot adoption compared to 2017 and 2018, China is likely to be one of the first countries to receive large-scale orders coming up this year. The bouncing back of the two main customers industries, automotive and electrical/electronics, to the “new normal” this year is the main driver for the promising outlook. The global market also expects to return to its pre-crisis level in 2022 or 2023.
China’s robot-to-person ratio in factories is still trailing behind Japan by half, offering big manufacturers opportunities to conquer the market. Rising local labour cost also adds to the big picture. FANUC Chairman Yoshiharu Inaba underlined in his statement that Fanuc has developed “by leaps and bounds” to be ahead of this trend.
Though Fanuc has a significant market share in China, its archrivals, ABB and Yaskawa Electric, are also gearing up to fortify their presence in the country. The Chinese government also triggers the fierce competition as it plans to cultivate local players to take up 70 per cent of the market share by 2025, Nikkei Asia reported.