This is the heart of the robotics revolution

By Kim Iskyan

The robotics revolution is well underway.

And the next decade will see an explosion in the way humans interact with robots in day-to-day activities.

In warehouses all across China, hundreds of robots are processing orders from e-commerce sites. This was put to the test during November's Singles Day sale hosted by Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce business. Robots processed 812 million orders in a 24-hour period.

And in factories across China, workers are being replaced with robots. For example, Foxconn, a leading Chinese supplier of iPhone components, replaced 60,000 workers with robots in 2015.

Last year, the first robot dentist operated on a patient in China.

Meanwhile, Japan is developing robot caregivers to help the elderly walk in the streets and lift them from their beds. They're also now testing robot construction workers that lift, measure, weld and navigate a construction site, allowing companies to reduce their manpower needs by as much as 50 percent.

According to market research firm Mordor Intelligence, the global robotics market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 24.5 percent from 2018 to 2023.

In short, this isn't a fad. It's a mega-trend. It will likely reshape everything we know in the next five to 10 years.

And the heart of this revolution is in Asia…

China is by far and away the biggest robotics market

China was late to the robotics revolution, but has taken the lead in just a few years.

In 2016, there were only 36 robots per 10,000 manufacturing workers in China, according to the Wall Street Journal. That's compared to 315 per 10,000 workers in Japan and 478 in South Korea.

But China is closing that gap. The country's government has set a goal of raising the robot-to-worker ratio to more than 100 by 2020.

In 2015, China announced its "Made in China 2025" initiative - which lists the robotics industry (including artificial intelligence and automation) as one of the priority sectors for development in the years to come.

In 2016, China had a 31 percent share of global industrial robot manufacturing, up from 25 percent in 2014. The government is aiming to raise that to 50 percent by 2020.

This means China will be manufacturing at least 100,000 industrial robots per year by 2020.

The International Federation of Robotics estimates that by 2019, China will account for nearly 40 percent of all industrial robots sold. That's an increase from 27 percent in 2015.

What's more, China is the world's biggest market for industrial robots, according to the International Federation of Robotics.

Why is China focusing on robotics?

For starters, the average manufacturing wage in China has increased around nine-fold since 2000. The demand for automation is skyrocketing as a result.

The International Federation of Robotics estimates that this year China will account for nearly 40 percent of all industrial robots sold.

And as we've shown you before, China also has big global ambitions.

Along with its massive One Belt One Road infrastructure project, part of China's plan to deepen its political and economic influence throughout the world includes closing the technology gap between it and the U.S.

Much of the world views China as a nation of copycats and counterfeits. But China accounts for 20 percent of all global research & development spending. That's a close second behind the U.S., which accounts for 26 percent of global spending.

In the field of artificial intelligence (AI), China is also second - just behind the U.S. in terms of the number of AI companies and the corresponding amount of financing received by those firms.

And when it comes to simply brute computing power, China is the world leader. Since mid-2013, China has held claim to the world's fastest supercomputer.

And it's not just China…

Asia is the market for robotics. Three of the four largest robotics markets in the world are in Asia (China, South Korea and Japan).

Excluding Japan, the Asian market is growing at north of 20 percent annually. In 2014, we saw a 40 percent year-on-year jump in industrial robots sold in Asia (60 percent of the global total).

According to the International Federation of Robotics, Asia sold a total of 190,492 industrial units in 2016. That's a 19 percent increase from the year before. And this represented the highest sales level ever recorded for the fourth year in a row.

In short, Asia is leading the robotics revolution. Not only are they buying most of the robots being made in the world today, but they are also building - and profiting - from them. So make sure Asian robotics stocks are on your radar.

 

Kim Iskyan
Kim Iskyan is the publisher of Stansberry Churchouse Research, an independent investment research company based in Singapore and Hong Kong that delivers investment insight on Asia and around the world. Kim has nearly 25 years of experience as a stock analyst, hedge fund manager, political risk consultant, and financial commentator in more than half a dozen emerging and frontier markets. He's been quoted in the Economist, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Barron's, and Bloomberg, and has appeared on Fox Business News, China Central Television, and Bloomberg TV, and has written commentary for the Wall Street Journal, Slate.com, Salon, TheStreet.com, breakingviews.com, and other publications. For more of his insights, Click here to sign up to receive the Asia Wealth Investment Daily in your inbox every day, for free.

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