China is soon expected to become the largest user of robots, as the country modernizes operations to increase global competitiveness. Robot manufacturers at the China International Robot Show in Shanghai have rejected worries that better technology will force lower-paid workers out of jobs.
These are the multi-million dollar machines that promise to make our working lives easier. From welding cars and trucks. To handling chemicals and sorting logistics. The future of being fast and efficient.
"They will be doing everything from material handling, pick and place, packaging and I think with some of the new technical features that we add they will be doing more assembly applications," said Enrico Krog Iversen, CEO of Universal Robots.
China is forecast to take over Japan and the U.S. as the largest market for robots.
"China is now at the stage of industrial transformation. To achieve the goal, China has to gradually change from labor-intensive style to a more sustainable and innovative development. Robots play a crucial role in supporting the process. It helps Chinese enterprises to reduce cost and increase efficiency and competitiveness," said Qu Daokui, President of Saisun Robot & Automation Co. Ltd.
It's forecast that China will have 40 million less workers in the 20-30 age bracket compared to ten years ago, because of the aging population. Robots are expected to fill the gap.
But technology and trade experts say human labor will move into jobs that need higher skills - leaving robots to do the more physical, unsafe, and dirtier work.
"You don't want to have people only providing very low value-add labour - you want them to be better educated, China is investing a lot in the education system, so bringing the next generation of Chinese workers into higher, value-added jobs will provide the benefits the government's expecting," Stefan Sack, CEO of Comau (Shanghai) Engineering Co. Ltd., said.
(CNTV.cn July 3, 2013)