02/06/15 3:40:15 AM
As China’s working-age population dwindles and labor costs keep rising, the world’s largest economy will be home to the largest population of automation robots. Jane Lanhee Lee reports.
Robots taking over China’s factory floors.
And by 2017, there will be more in production plants here than in any other country in the world.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, JANE LANHEE LEE, SAYING:
“China may have 1.4 billion people. But the one-child policy has caused the working-age population to shrink for the third year in a row. Plus many of the younger generation no longer feel they need to toil for hours on a production line. Add to that rising labor costs, and China’s got a problem on its hands.”
Enter robotics. In the next three years China’s robot army is expect to double to over 400,000.
At the moment, industry promoter the International Federation of Robotics says China has just 30 robots per 10,000 workers in manufacturing industries – far behind other industrial powerhouses.
In South Korea, for example, that number is well over 400.
So robot makers are cranking up.
The industries first in line for more robotics – China’s auto and electronics makers to feed the world’s biggest car and smartphone market.
And it’s not just factories, but also the service industry – like banks and online shops – which are fast replacing people with software sort of like Siri, sometimes creating frustrating experiences.
But there’s no turning back now. China and the rest of the world, will have to dance to the new tune.
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