Japanese robot firm makes an aggressive move in China

China will need more than half-a-million industrial robots by 2025. The race is on to see who will supply them.

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Japan's Kawasaki Heavy Industries has announced a dramatic expansion of its robot production line in China.

The company is looking to boost sales of industrial robots in China by 70 percent--a target of about 8,000 units--this fiscal year. The company's China division will install three new assembly lines in coming weeks to produce four varieties of small industrial robots.

The Chinese robotics market has sparked a gold rush for foreign and domestic firms. As part of its Made in China 2025 plan, the country is hoping to install between 600,000 and 650,000 new industrial robots in less than a decade. It's already the world's largest market for industrial robots.

Kawasaki is reportedly rolling out an additional small robot to meet demand in China. But Chinese firms are positioning themselves to meet much of the demand in-country, a scenario the Chinese government is eager to make a reality.

As I reported earlier this month, in a clear sign of China's global ambitions in the robotics market, Siasun Robot & Automation recently became the first Chinese firm to join the Robotic Industries Association, a North American trade group. China is set to triple its sales of robots by 2018. By 2019, it could account for 40 percent of global sales.

That has Japanese robot manufacturers nervous, and Kawasaki's move suggests that we're on the verge of an aggressive battle for share of the rapidly expanding industrial automation market.

As reported in the Nikkei Asian Review, Kawasaki is hoping to make and sell 12,000 units in China in fiscal 2018, a 50 percent increase over this year's target.

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