Robots let Chinese manufacturing fight the US and India?



Industrial robots for welding operations

"Danger": production efficiency, energy prices can not be beautiful; labor costs are not rivalry in Indonesia

As workers' wages and benefits continue to rise, Chinese manufacturing can no longer rely on low labor costs to earn an advantage.

The Boston Consulting Group compares the manufacturing costs of the world's top 25 exporting economies. According to the survey, the countries and regions with the lowest manufacturing costs are Indonesia, India, Mexico, Thailand, and China, followed by Taiwan and the United States. The low cost of Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia is mainly low in employment, while labor costs in Mexico are equal to those in China, but energy consumption is low. For the United States, the consulting firm's partner, Serkin, said that the primary reason for the gradual convergence of manufacturing costs between China and the United States is that China's labor costs are increasing, while the United States is more productive and has lower energy costs. Indeed, in another report by the Boston Consulting Group on China's manufacturing industry, a data was mentioned, “In the past five years, China's labor costs have risen by 10% annually.”


The Boston Consulting Group's Manufacturing Cost Index reflects that China's manufacturing can no longer rely on labor cost advantages


The rise in labor costs threatens China's “world factory” status is also a common problem. Generally speaking, it comes from two aspects: First, the reduction of the labor force is a trend. At the beginning of 2013, Ma Jiantang, the director of the National Bureau of Statistics, admitted for the first time in public. China's population and labor supply patterns have changed. This is the first decline in the absolute number of working-age people in China for quite a long time. He said, "The absolute number of working-age people has decreased by 3.45 million in 2012." Second, the younger generation of workers is more mobile and the welfare requirements for work are much higher than the previous generation. Many companies are suffering from "not good management." . .


As a result, some foreign companies moved to Indonesia to go to Indonesia, and some state-owned enterprises went to the United States to set up factories. Isn't China's "world factory" status unprotected?

Then, compared with labor costs, it is not like Indonesia, India, and Thailand. It is no match for energy prices and production efficiency under the United States and Mexico. It is natural to worry about the status of China’s “world factory”. In fact, some added value The low-level factories did move from China to Southeast Asia, and Chinese companies began to set up factories in the United States to take advantage of the cheap shale gas resources in the United States.



 Haier layoffs are said to be related to robots

 Robots are much more labor intensive. An intuitive example is that a company in Foshan uses robots for welding operations. The head of the company's technical department said, “At present, a robot can weld more than one product at the same time, which is equivalent to the workload of the original 2-4 people. The efficiency is 2.5 times the original." After the Haier layoffs, a reporter interviewed a number of home appliance companies, and found that these famous Chinese home appliance manufacturers almost all introduced robots to work, and they are very sure of robots. effectiveness. Moreover, with the quantitative production and use of robots, their own costs are also falling, even faster than estimated. A motor company said that each small multi-joint robot can replace the workload of two workers and recover the cost within two years. And five years ago, it took three to four years to recover the cost. Contrary to the increase in labor costs, the recovery time of robot costs is shortening, which will also promote the popularity of robots.


The right medicine 2: Treat the treatment of a new generation of workers - operating robots is a "cool" job for young people

What's more surprising is that in some Chinese companies' practice, robots have also shown unexpected benefits. Because robots are cool, they appeal to the challenging and energetic young workforce. On the other hand, robots are also good for improving the working environment. For those who work in a mess, robots can do it. The founder of a local robot design company said, "The most important contribution of robots is to take workers from the harsh The production environment is liberated and the pneumoconiosis is basically eliminated. Therefore, people even associate corporate culture with robots, which is very promising.


Since it is a panacea for the two major problems, China has become the number one buyer.
Robots can effectively solve the labor problems that China is currently facing, and the introduction of a large number of them is expected. What's more, industrial robots that are more stable and reliable than people can also promote the upgrading of industries that have been said for many years to produce high value-added products. According to the International Federation of Robotics, from 2008 to 2013, China’s annual import of robots increased by an average of 36%. In 2013, China purchased 36,560 industrial robots, an increase of nearly 60% from 2012, ranking first. The second and third are Japan and the United States. This is also far beyond the industry's previous expectations. Although China's manufacturing industry is huge, the current inventory of robots is not enough, and it is not as strong as Japan's old-fashioned industrial robots, but the momentum is swift. The head of the German Labor Institute (IZA) wrote earlier that this is China’s great ambition and challenges the Western countries. Indeed, in the big countries where industrial robots are used, the names of other emerging economies outside China are not seen. Like India, the amount of purchases last year was only a thousand.


The number of industrial robots purchased in China has become the first in Japan in the past year.


However, when robots defended and upgraded the status of the world's factories, they also brought two major "human" problems.

Educational issues: Robots also require people to operate and maintain, which is another tough competition between education and technology.

In fact, robots also have the problem of insufficient labor, which is precisely the dislocation of the quality of workers. Robots require advanced technicians to perform maintenance and require appropriate management talent. These are undoubtedly scarce. However, this is not only a problem for China but also a worldwide problem. In this regard, an article entitled "Humans are still masters of automation" is very in-depth. The article refers to the robot era as the "second machine era", industrial mechanization brought by electricity and internal combustion engines. . The article says that in the past we emphasized the memory of facts and the ability to execute detailed instructions that were meaningful. But computers are doing well in these areas and progress is getting faster. Therefore, in the future we must innovate education and promote lifelong learning. Humanity will play an important role in the second machine era. But many companies face difficulties in finding employees with different skill levels, which indicates that our education system has not kept pace with technology development. The well-known consulting firm McKinsey predicts that 95 million people will be unemployed in developing economies due to low skills.


    Workers and robots work together

    Indeed, people's expectation for robots is to give those who are dirty and lively and mechanically good to the robots, and the liberated human beings are engaged in more high-end jobs, not so tired, with higher technical content and happiness. The index is also higher. However, if education does not win the technology, then everything is futile. At present, the total number of robots introduced in China is not large. Many enterprises have also encountered recruitment problems. Our education has not yet cultivated enough corresponding talents. Of course, at present, the promotion policy of vocational education is a good thing, but it still makes some education experts worry that these vocational schools are administrative-oriented rather than market-oriented and employment-oriented, and can not cultivate the people who need the market. …[detailed]
   Assignment puzzle: income distribution may be more disparate, how to make more people enjoy the benefits of the upgraded world factory is a big question
The high productivity of the robot means that many people will be eliminated. At the same time, according to the current domestic experience, in addition to senior technicians, robots also need ordinary workers to cooperate with the operation, but this work is extremely low in technical content, and two days of training can be employed, and the replacement is almost 100%. These situations mean lower incomes or unemployment difficulties for low-skilled workers, and this group is not small. The ideal state, of course, is the director of the German Labor Institute (IZA). "The Chinese government wants to see a rise in salary levels, not only to promote domestic consumption, but also because it means that Chinese companies are global. The market produces more advanced products. Operating large-scale assembly plants is no longer seen as a viable way to ensure the future of China's economy. In order to achieve its goals, China needs well-trained, well-paid and highly motivated workers. Robots are used for heavy and low-level Work is in line with this strategy."
But ideals are ideal, and whether the popularity of robots makes poorer poor people poorer is also a hot topic worldwide. Two American university scholars believe that the improvement of productivity may make the situation of future generations worse. Workers are replaced by robots, and their income will be transferred to the owners of robots, most of whom will be “retired” and their deposits will be less than younger. The investment in human capital will be reduced because young people can no longer bear the associated costs; investment in machinery will also be reduced, as the size of the savings in the economy as a whole will also shrink.
In other words, the result of technology and social development is to allow only some people to enjoy and widen the gap between the rich and the poor, or to allow most people to share a piece of cake is a major issue after the robot is widely used, and this involves Social security and employment skills training for low-income, low-skilled or unemployed people.


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