Can industrial robots completely replace labor?

- Jun 10, 2019-


It should be clear that in today's era, automation and information construction have become the top priority in the development of most manufacturing companies. For some traditional manual operations, they have to face a problem, that is Can industrial robots completely replace artificial labor?


According to the latest "China Robot Industry Development Report (2018)", as of 2018, the overall scale of China's robot industry has exceeded 8 billion US dollars, and the 5-year average growth rate has reached nearly 30%. The domestic robot market is at a high-speed growth stage. At the same time, in terms of industrial robots, China has become the world's largest application market for six consecutive years; in terms of service robots and special robots, demand potential and scenario applications are also being accelerated.


The reasons for such results are inseparable from the influence of government, enterprises, capital, technology, talents and many other factors, but the most important factor is the labor factor. It is precisely because of the retreat of the demographic dividend, the rise of labor costs and the reduction of labor resources that the actual needs of industrial transformation and upgrading have been proposed for China's economic development, and the robot industry has ushered in a good opportunity for development.


Nowadays, the driving force brought about by the labor factor is still further increasing. On April 29, the National Bureau of Statistics released the "2018 Survey Report on Migrant Workers" (referred to as "Report"), showing us the true status and trends of the development of migrant workers' labor. Among the few characteristics that have been shown, let us once again see the possibility of speeding up the development of robots.


The first characteristic is that the increment of migrant workers is decreasing and the total growth rate is obviously falling. According to the "Report", the total number of migrant workers in 2018 was 288.36 million. Although it increased by 1.84 million compared with last year, it increased by nearly 3 million compared with the previous year. The total growth rate dropped by 1.1 percentage points year-on-year. . This is the first decline in the total growth rate of migrant workers in China since 2015, and the biggest drop in the past 10 years.


This shows that the current number of migrant workers in China has already bid farewell to the era of infinite growth, and there has been a marked and sharp decline. As this develops, the increase in migrant workers will gradually usher in a period of negative growth, resulting in a large reduction in the number of labor, which will further promote the growth of the number of robots as an alternative in the future.


The second characteristic is that the proportion of migrant workers in the middle and high age groups has increased year by year. According to the data given in the Report, the average age of migrant workers in 2018 was 40.2 years, an increase of 0.5 years from the previous year. Regardless of the age structure, or the employment of migrant workers, the age of migrant workers, etc., the average age proportion has shifted from the 40-year-old to the 50-year-old.


This shows that the aging trend of migrant workers in China has become more and more prominent. The old labor force is getting old and the new labor force is slowly replenishing. If the old and new alternations in the future have not been effectively resolved, the huge faults caused by the unsuccessful workforce will greatly increase the space and opportunities for robot development, and large-scale substitution of machines will become an inevitable result.


The last feature is that the education level of migrant workers is continuously improving. From the "Report" we can see that among the total number of migrant workers in 2018, 1.2% did not attend school, 15.5% of primary school education, 55.8% of junior high school education, 16.6% of high school education, junior college and above. 10.9%. The proportion of migrant workers with college education and above increased by 0.6 percentage points over the previous year, and the overall labor quality improved significantly.


Under this trend, the rising level of education and quality of the labor force will drive a series of changes in labor wages and job selection. At present, more than half of the labor force has chosen a more comfortable and relaxed job in the third service industry, and the salary of the post is also rising. This means that in the future, as more and more labor positions are transferred and labor costs rise, robots The application scenarios and employment space will be further expanded.


From the characteristics of the above three major migrant workers' labor factors, we can find that robots are undoubtedly the best profit-seekers. In the future, the development of “machine substitution” will not only have great potential but also a promising future. However, at present, under the circumstances that the reality is so strong, the development of China's robots in the manufacturing field is in a difficult situation. What is the situation?


According to statistics from the mainland countries, from 2015 to 2017, China's industrial robot production grew from 21.7 to 68.1%, all of which triumphed, but in 2018, this year-on-year, rapid growth trend was interrupted. Since September last year, the monthly growth rate of the industrial robot industry has suddenly turned negative, and the downward trend has continued. By the first quarter of this year, the output growth rate has reached -11.7%.


At the same time, from the performance of industrial robot manufacturers and manufacturers, many local companies also showed a decline in revenue last year. For example, Eston's revenue growth has dropped from about 60% in the previous year to 35%. Topstar has dropped from nearly 80% in the previous year to around 50%, and Huazhong CNC has changed directly from 20% in 2017 to last year. -16%, the output drop is staggering.


The reasons for this situation, many industry analysts believe that it is affected by the downward pressure on the domestic economy. Affected by this, the demand for domestic industrial robots has not followed the growth of production capacity. Many companies have experienced tight capital and shrinking orders, which has turned the application of robots into a conservative attitude.


However, the economic downturn is destined to be only temporary, and the trend brought about by the labor factor is long-term. Therefore, in the face of the current short-term difficulties and unfavorable situation, Chinese enterprises should still maintain a high degree of enthusiasm, continue to seek breakthroughs in products and technologies, continue to enhance and expand production capacity, waiting for the demand side to a good time.


After all, opportunities are always reserved for those who are prepared, and the market is always open to more powerful companies. Only by doing a good job can you face a better future with the opportunity to grasp the fleeting moments!