Robots, known as the jewel at the top of the manufacturing crown, are an important indicator of a country's innovation capability and industrial competitiveness. It has become an important entry point for a new round of global technological and industrial revolution. At present, the demand for intelligent transformation and upgrading of manufacturing in China is increasingly prominent, and the demand for industrial robots is strong.
The industrial robot industry chain includes three parts, including upstream core components, midstream robot body, and downstream integrated applications.
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Upstream are manufacturers of components such as controllers, servo motors, reducers, sensors, and end effectors. Controllers, servo motors, and reducers are the three core components of industrial robots. The key link in the industrial robot industry chain is the upstream core components, which account for most of the cost and profit of the entire industrial robot. It is also the core and difficulty of technology and the most important part that affects the performance of the robot. The cost of the three core components of controller, servo motor, and reducer accounts for about 70% of the total cost of industrial robots, of which the reducer accounts for about 35% of the total machine cost, the servo accounts for about 20%, and the controller accounts for about 15%.
Controller: Industrial Robot Brain, Bound to the Body
As one of the three major components of industrial robots, the controller is the brain of the industrial robot, which has a decisive influence on the performance of the robot. The controller mainly controls the movement position, posture, and trajectory of the robot in the working space, operation sequence, and movement time.
The domestic industrial robot controller market is mostly occupied by European, American, and Japanese brands. Due to the relatively low threshold of the controller's "nerve center", mature robot manufacturers generally develop in-house to ensure stability and maintain the technical system. Therefore, the controller and the body have a strong binding effect, and the market share is the same as the robot body. The mainstream robot manufacturers have their control systems to match them, and the domestic industrial robot controller market is dominated by European, American, and Japanese brands. The four major families represented by FANUC, Yaskawa, KUKA, and ABB generally adopt self-production and self-use production models.
The controller hardware chip relies on imports, and the software algorithm gap is large. After years of precipitation, the controller hardware solutions of domestic manufacturers have reached international standards, but there is no domestic research and development foundation as the underlying chips are dependent on imports. In terms of software, international industrial robot brands started early and have very rich experience and data. Domestic brands still have some gaps in the stability, response speed, and ease of use.
Servo: The Mid-To-High-End Market Is Monopolized by Foreign Companies
The servo system is a feedback control system used to accurately follow or reproduce a certain process. It consists of three parts, including a servo driver, a servo motor, and an encoder, as a main source of power for industrial robots.
At present, the high-end servo motor market in China is mainly monopolized by foreign companies. Imported products occupy more than 70% of the domestic industrial robot servo market. They mainly come from Japan, Europe, and the United States. Japanese products occupy the first place with a market share of more than 40%, famous as Yaskawa, Panasonic, and Mitsubishi.
The domestic servo motor technology is relatively backward, and the products are mainly in the low-end field. At present, Chinese enterprises can achieve large-scale mass production in the low-end servo field, and meet the needs of small and medium-sized and economic users with cost-effective advantages.
Reducer: The Highest Technical Barrier, The Lowest Localization Rate
Precision reducer is the most important part of the industrial robot. The core component of the industrial robot movement is "joint", each of which need different reducer products. Industrial robots have extremely high requirements for the accuracy, load, and life of the reducer. Its technical barrier is the highest among the core components of industrial robots, and it is the core component that has the highest degree of impact on the performance of the industrial robot. Industrial robots generally use RV reducers and harmonic reducers.
The current global industrial robot reducer market is oligopolistic, and the industry is highly concentrated. Among them, Nabtesco is a world giant in the production of RV reducers, accounting for about 60% of the global reducer market. The time for domestic enterprises to enter the reducer field is relatively short, and the technical level still needs to be improved. More than 70% of the domestic robot reducer market share is monopolized by foreign-funded reducer companies, and the localization rate is less than 30%. In the process of localization of reducers, although many reducer manufacturers have achieved mass production and the market acceptance has increased year by year, there is still a certain gap with Japanese products.
Robot Body: As Hardware Tends to Be Mature, Domestic Substitution Accelerates
Midstream is the body manufacturer, responsible for the assembly and integration of the industrial robot body.
The hardware technology of the robot body has become mature, mainly in the optimization of the structure and the improvement of the user experience.
The downstream is an integrated application company, responsible for targeted system integration and software secondary development of industrial robots according to different application scenarios and uses, and supporting peripheral equipment to realize industrial applications. Compared with upstream core components and midstream ontologies, downstream system integration has the lowest technical barriers. The manufacturing industry in China is very broad, so some special equipment has been developed for specific application characteristics, which is an advantage of domestic robots. At the same time, domestic robot prices and maintenance costs will be slightly lower, and the delivery cycle will be relatively short, after-sales service is also better. Thanks to these advantages, in many fields, domestic robots have now replaced foreign robots. Domestic robots are mainly used in handling, loading and unloading, assembly, etc., and the localization rate of middle and low-end is increasing. But The high-end market is still monopolized by foreign capital, in which Fanuc, ABB, Yaskawa, and KUKA are the four major global robot families, with a combined market share of more than 50%.
At present, many links in the industrial robot industry chain are stuck and domestic technologies are difficult to match. However, the hard work of domestic enterprises at this stage will undoubtedly lay a solid foundation for the development of the domestic robot industry. With the increase in domestic labor costs, the shortening of the robot investment recovery period and the gradual release of the domestic demand market, the future of domestic robots can be expected.
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