SHANGHAI -- Yaskawa Electric will increase Chinese production of industrial robots to keep up with brisk demand from manufacturers of electronics products, such as smartphones and computers.
With a Jiangsu Province plant to expand in the second half of 2018, the major Japanese factory automation equipment manufacturer will raise its monthly output in China to 1,500 units from the current 1,200.
Yaskawa has mainly handled industrial robots that are relatively large in size, such as those used in the welding process at automobile plants, but it will shift its focus going forward to smaller robots.
The company is gearing up to release a model that weighs just 7kg, said Corporate Vice President Masahiro Ogawa. The equipment, which will be small enough to fit in a space tinier than 20 x 20 cm, can be used alongside production equipment already in place to raise efficiency.
Yaskawa will boost production of existing smaller robots as well. The company hopes to broaden their applications by making them easier to handle, enhancing water resistance and reducing connection cables, for instance.
The company headquartered in the southern Japanese city of Kitakyushu has struggled to fill orders in the past few years due to strong demand for smaller robots used in the so-called 3C areas -- communication equipment, computers, consumer electronics.
The Chinese Institute of Electronics projects that the domestic market for robots will grow more than 20% on the year to $6.28 billion in 2017. Industrial robots account for two-thirds of the broader robot market, and are expected to continue to enjoy double-digit growth through 2020.