TOKYO -- Chinese contract manufacturers of smartphones and other manufacturing-sector companies continue to tap Japanese industrial robots for help with assembly.
Shipments of industrial robots from Japan Robot Association members reached 195.9 billion yen ($1.72 billion) in the July-September quarter, up 39.9% on the year, show figures released Thursday by the trade group.
The association forecasts production to increase 7% at members and nonmembers combined to a record 750 billion yen in 2017. But the numbers blew past projections in the first nine months of the year. If the current pace holds, annual output is "certain to top 800 billion yen," an association official said.
Exports soared 52.6% to 147.6 billion yen for the July-September period, marking an all-time high for a second straight quarter. Shipments to China skyrocketed 80% to 68.1 billion yen. Growth was particularly strong for robots used to mount electronic parts and to perform automotive welding. Increasing investment in automation apparently also buoyed demand.
Shipments to the U.S. increased 13.6% to 27.4 billion yen, while those to Germany jumped 46.8% to 13.1 billion yen. Taiwan-bound exports grew 79.6% to 5.1 billion yen.