BEIJING — China aims to triple its annual production of industrial robots to 100,000 by 2020, compared with fewer than 33,000 in 2015, according to a guideline released on April 27.
The country also vowed to sell more than 30 billion yuan ($4.6 billion) worth of service robots by 2020 amid surging demand in the health care, scientific research and domestic service sectors, according to the guideline posted on the website of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
This came as the country strives to upgrade its labor-intensive manufacturing sector through technological innovation as it faces a shrinking working age population and rising labor costs.
The guideline said China plans to spread the use of industrial robots in industries such as car manufacturing, electronics, home appliances, aviation, textiles, chemicals, logistics and food production.
Special funds from the central budget will be earmarked to support robotics research and development, and financial institutions are encouraged to finance robotic projects, according to the guideline.
China was the largest market for industrial robots for the second straight year in 2014, with sales rising by 56 percent year on year to 57,000, a quarter of the total sold globally. But only 17,000 of those robots came from domestic vendors, 78 percent more than the year before, according to the MIIT.
There is still plenty of room for explosive growth. China’s robot density - measured by the number of robots per 10,000 manufacturing workers - was 36 in 2014, compared with 478 in the Republic of Korea, 314 in Japan and the world average of 66, according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).
The IFR forecast industrial robot sales in China will rise to 150,000 in 2018.