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Midea Invests in Smart Factories

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Chinese appliance maker Midea, hot on the heels of its acquisition of German robotics firm KUKA, has announced an ambitious bid to build smart factories that can make and deliver products within 12 days of receiving an order, as well as track the processing of the order, as reported by Xinhua.

These smart factories, which are full of robotic arms and sensors, are being built in several Chinese cities, thanks to a capital investment of ¥5 billion by Midea, whose ultimate goal is to build more intelligent smart factories and use more robots in its factories. The robotics sector is still largely untapped worldwide, and thus, there are many opportunities for companies such as Midea to grab market share. According to the International Federation of Robotics, by the year 2020, there will be 150 robots for every 10,000 workers in China, which would be four times the level of that in 2015.

In fact, China has the largest intelligent manufacturing and robot application market in the world, and the government has decided to focus more of its efforts on big data, cloud computing and the Internet of Things, in addition to, of course, intelligent manufacturing. According to KUKA’s CEO, Till Reuter, China’s robot market is expected to maintain annual growth of 20 percent, far ahead of the 5 to 10 percent growth in the United States, and even higher than the 14 percent growth in Europe.

Midea’s hope is that its automation solutions can be exported to other countries, much like China’s high-speed train technology is being exported. However, Midea is sure to face intense competition by other Chinese appliance makers such as Haier, Gree, and Galanz, though this is likely to be a good thing, since many large companies focusing on building smart factories will in turn help enhance production and logistics speed, not to mention help develop the industry as a whole.

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