In light industries such as 3C Industry (Computer, Communication, and Consumer Electronics), products are always replaced rapidly, which poses the problem that the products and solutions are very difficult to standardize and requires a lot of customization work. How to improve research and development efficiency and choose the right application for robots is an important issue that many companies in the industry have to consider.
How to improve R&D efficiency and choose the right applications for robots?
When choosing application scenarios, the following important factors are normally considered:
a. Choose industry-leading customers with high-profit margins and urgent improvement requirements in terms of production and quality.
The reasons behind this are, firstly, they have a strong awareness and demand for improvements in their manufacturing processes, and expect automation to help them lift up their efficiencies.
Chinese industrial robot company QKM Technology(李群自动化) leads the example in selecting the right type of customers. It is a high-tech enterprise specializing in the R&D, production, sales and application of lightweight high-end industrial robots. QKM Technology recently completed its Series C Fundraising, received nearly USD 17 Million. The investors are Yue Ke Financial Group(粤科金融集团) and Ying Capital(天鹰资本).
QKM Technology's industrial robots ensure moon cake producing companies' capacity and efficiency during the busy production seasons; refined production automation can help achieve a higher percentage of quality products in each batch compared to the ratio achieved by humans.
Secondly, industry-leading customers have enough budget to support the implementation of automation in their factories.
Thirdly, the production processes of these leading companies are more mature, more standardized, which is very beneficial for QKM Technology to better understand the industry process, define the applications, and make standardized products, and promote it in the industry.
b. Process stability of the industry and versatility of the production lines
Process stability of these leading companies is higher than the other companies in the industry. They always also have very sorted-out product category. After QKM Technology analyzed the production line in details and come up with customized robots, when the product size or product specification changes, these robots can help users to respond and adapt quickly to demands, therefore achieve high production efficiency.
For example, one sorting system developed by QKM Technology for its hardware industry client in Zhejian province can adapt to 8 kinds of products without making any changes.
c. Costs & Return Analysis for Clients
Customers in different fields have their own expectations for the period of time they could get returns from their investment. Therefore, QKM Technology will inspect the customer's sites, analyze the product models and discuss their development potentials with the customer, to understand the actual needs of the customer, also, taking consideration of the return on investment to give an indication of whether to install robots in their production spaces, and if so, what the best proposal is.
QKM Technology always starts with finding the leading enterprises in the corresponding fields, conduct in-depth research on them, and then make standardized products to suit their needs. After being tested excessively, they will promote the products to the whole industry via integrators.
QKM Technology's large product portfolio and continuous exploration
Until now, QKM Technology has launched automation solutions such as mobile phone glass screen picking, micro motor assembly, mooncake automatic packaging line, and elbow hose sorting in 3C, food, hardware, and other industries. It is also exploring new fields such as pharmaceuticals and renewable energy sector.
In addition, QKM Technology will form modular packages for individual applications, such as sorting stations, scanning stations, etc., and continuously update functions to be quickly reused in new application scenarios, thereby reducing costs in customization.
QKM Technology also extended to the upstream core component field, and independently developed a distributed intelligent controlling system, which is considered to be the "brain" of the robot.
New opportunities for Chinese industrial robots
The automation and intelligent transformation of light industries have brought to fresh opportunities for Chinese industrial robot companies.
China is, in fact, the world's largest industrial robot market. In 2017, more than one-third of the world's total sales of industrial robots are from China. On the other hand, the Chinese industrial robot market is mainly dominated by foreign brands, especially in the mid-to-high-end market. According to statistics, in 2017, approximately 90% of the industrial robots utilized in the Chinese automotive industry are from foreign companies.
However, Pre-CEO, now chairman of QKM Technology SHI Jinbo is quite optimistic about industrial robot's future in China. "We mustn't be too pessimistic, China's industrial robot industry started a lot later than it does in foreign countries, it's quite reasonable and natural for it to occupy tiny market share.”
Also, foreign industrial robot manufacturers like YASKAWA, FANUC, KUKA, and ABB are mainly concentrated in the heavy duty industry sectors. As the labor costs in China continue to climb up, and talent acquisition becomes increasingly challenging, the automation and intelligent transformation of light industries would be able to solve these problems, which has brought a new wave of opportunities.
Different from the high standardization in heavy industry, light industry is so much less standardized, it is involved with a lot of manual work carried out by human beings.
The movement of human beings is extremely flexible, the robots designed for heavy industries cannot adapt to these application scenarios, which gives new opportunities for China's lightweight industrial robot manufacturers.
Which differentiates the outperformers from the average in lightweight industrial robots is not the price, but product quality. Only by making its robot intelligent enough and easier enough to be utilized in different application scenarios can a company stand out from its peers.
Author: LI Jia. Write to LI Jia at LIJia@EqualOcean.com