Since 2013, China has become the world’s largest market for industrial robots. According to a study by my firm, that market grew another 28.5% just last year — stronger than in any other region in the world. However, many observers still have questions about whether the country has what it takes to be a true leader in smart manufacturing.
- Isn’t China traditionally more a nation of shanzhai — copycats and opportunistic traders instead of tinkerers?
- Doesn’t the top-down approach of its government lead to a misallocation of financial resources, which creates investment bubbles and overcapacities — also in the robotics industry?
- Aren’t foreign automation vendors discouraged by the arbitrary rule of the Communist Party and obscure regulations such as China’s new cybersecurity law?
Western companies can learn from their Chinese competitors
However, my team has seen firsthand some examples where established automation vendors can learn from their Chinese competitors. Even if we discuss pioneers and not the majority of firms here, multinational businesses should consider the following things:
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