China is known worldwide as a manufacturing powerhouse. Historically, this has been due to the use of their tremendous population. The almost endless availability of workers for the factories has allowed many industries to expand quickly over the years. However, this could soon change because robots are beginning take over for the human workers. “The nation is expected to have more factory robots than any other country on earth by 2017, according to the German-based International Federation of Robotics.” This is being attributed to rising labor costs in China. “[The] new robot technology is cheaper and easier to deploy than ever before.”
This “explosive” growth of automated factories and use of robots instead of people greatly hurts job creation in developing countries. This new trend will prevent factories from helping poorer nations like they have in the past. For example, if a U.S. company were to build a factory in the Philippines, instead of employing 800 people (like they would have 20 years ago) they might only need 200. They robots would be able to do the work of hundreds of human workers. “The International Federation of Robotics estimates about 225,000 industrial robots were sold throughout the world last year – 27% more than the year before and a new record. Of those, about, 56,000 were sold in China.
This is an interesting trend to be seen in China. I wonder what their manufacturing landscape will look like 20 years from now, as well as their job market. Will humans be completely pushed out of the factories by the cheaper, more efficient robot labor?