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Demand for Cables Has Been Released in the Robot Market

The 'China Robot Industry Development Report' released at the 2022 World Robot Conference on August 21st predicts that the scale of China's robot market will reach US$17.4 billion in 2022, with an average annual growth rate of 22% in five years. Among them, the market size of industrial robots is expected to reach US$8.7 billion in 2022, US$6.5 billion for service robots, and US$2.2 billion for special robots.

The robot market in China has entered a period of rapid growth. Industrial robots have ranked first in the world for eight consecutive years. The potential demand for service robots is huge. The application scenarios of special robots have been significantly expanded. The growth in shipments of industrial robot bodies has driven the steady development of domestic core component companies. The process of localization of core components has been accelerated, and many innovative enterprises have emerged. According to the forecast of the International Federation of Robotics, the sales of robots in China will exceed 19 billion US dollars in 2024. According to this calculation, by 2024, the industrial demand for wire harnesses for industrial automation equipment in China will reach about 10 billion RMB, of which cables are about 3 billion RMB.

During the past "13th Five-Year Plan" period, the cable market brought by the robot industry in China has shown great vitality. In 2020, the output of domestic industrial robots is about 212,000 units, of which the industrial robots with more than four axes account for 60%, and the annual output value of the body wiring harness is about 700 million RMB. The output value of the robot integration market is about 3 to 4 times that of the body wiring harness, which is about 700 million. The output value of the CNC system market is about 10 times that of the robot market. The consumption of cable harness is about 1.5 times that of the body harness, and the output value is about 1.3 billion RMB. The demand for equipment wiring harnesses in the industrial automation market is about 2 billion RMB per year.

At present, flexible cables for industrial automation equipment are widely used in the moving parts of automation equipment such as robots. This kind of cable can provide power and signal transmission, and it is required to withstand millions or even tens of millions of flexures. Other properties such as abrasion resistance and environmental liquid resistance are needed as well. In recent years, the primary goal of China's industrial robot research and development is to break through key core technologies. After incorporating the compliant force control feature, it becomes more flexible and can achieve applications with higher precision and greater sensitivity. It is accelerating its popularization and application in complex precision scenes such as assembling, grinding, riveting, etc.

However, we still need to note that at present, more than 70% of the body cables used by domestic high-end industrial robots (including foreign capital) and system integrators still rely on imported cables mainly from Japan and Europe. Due to the late start of the industrialization of domestic industrial robots, industrial automation flexible cables began to start large-scale research and market promotion after 2010.

In addition, the test and evaluation cycle of bending and torsion of flexible cables for industrial automation equipment is very long, which not only costs a lot, but also greatly affects the response speed of cable enterprises to market demand. It is suggested that cable manufacturers and test institutions should conduct joint research and accumulate data from material selection, structural design, test conditions and other aspects, to form a rapid simulation evaluation study.