The solar module workshop of Saiwei Power Company, Xinyu City, Jiangxi Province,industryrobotexistautomationPrecise operation on the production line to produce high-efficiency photovoltaic solar modules. Photo by Ling Houxiang (People’s Vision)
Canop welding robot.Photo courtesy of the interviewed company
Canopy digital factory production line.Photo courtesy of the interviewed company
Jiateng counterbalance unmanned forklift is under debugging.Photo courtesy of the interviewed company
Jiateng Robot has recently launched the first differential 20-ton AGV drive unit in China. The drive unit adopts differential heavy-duty power modules and control strategies to enhance the practicability and durability of the product. It is reported that heavy-duty AGVs can be used in aerospace, high-pressure vessels, large-scale infrastructure projects, modular construction projects and other industries.Photo courtesy of the interviewed company
In people’s minds, robots usually have the characteristics of “human” – they have limbs, can walk, and can communicate with people to some extent.However, in real life, it is not “humanoid robots” that are used more and can really improve efficiency to serve people and solve practical needs, but all kinds of automation.mechanicalalso known as “industrial robots”.
The shapes of industrial robots vary widely and are closely related to their actual application scenarios. Some are manipulators, Robotic arms, and some are a complete set ofautomation equipment. In this field, although China started late, it has achieved remarkable results. It has formed the independent production capacity of the whole industry chain, and some sub-sectors are comparable to the international advanced level. How is the application of industrial robots in China? How do robot manufacturers catch up with great strides? How will it go to the next level? Our reporter interviewed several Industrial Robot companies that have been rated as “little giants” by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to see their growth stories.
Machines replace people, empowering thousands of industries
As an industrial “tailor”, welding is an indispensable processing method in industrial production, and it is also a chore. In the workshop, the arc light flashes and the welding flowers are flying beautifully, but for the welder, it is not a pleasant thing to cut and cut materials, assemble and weld in the smoke, arc light and roar, and ensure that there is no mistake. !
How to ensure welding quality in such a working environment?
Welding robots offer an option to liberate welders. “For example, the welding of the tower foot of the power industry is to weld angle steel and multiple rib plates on a thick plate. It is necessary to ensure the penetration depth, weld width, welding strength, etc. At the same time, the variety of workpieces and parameters are changeable, which is very difficult. “Deng Shihai, deputy general manager of Chengdu Canop Robotics Co., Ltd., said that welding robots are Canop’s advantageous products. The professional overall welding solution provided by Canopy is convenient and easy to use, and its trajectory intelligent compensation algorithm can make the robot welding precision and speed comparable to foreign advanced technologies, and can replace experienced high-level welders. The three welding robots of Canopy have the advantages of large working space, fast running speed, and high repeatability of positioning accuracy.
In the era of Industry 4.0, production must be automated, and logistics must be automated. In warehouse management, such repetitive and purely manual labor is the goal of machine replacement, but it is not easy to achieve. How to avoid obstacles? How to accurately grasp the goods when they are placed and stacked irregularly?
For Jiateng Robot, which has been in the AGV (unmanned vehicle) industry for more than ten years, this is not difficult. Chen Hongbo, vice president of Jiateng Robotics Co., introduced that its products currently cover laser navigation, inertial navigation, magnetic guidance, natural navigation and other navigation methods. Providing indoor and outdoor services, car manufacturers especially favor its total automation solutions.
“The automobile workshop has put forward high requirements for logistics automation and flexible production. The Jiateng AGV system can not only realize the automatic distribution of parts, but also form an automatic flexible assembly device. It has been widely used in the entire production process, greatly improving production efficiency.” Chen Hongbo introduced.
According to Wang Weiming, Director of the First Division of Equipment Industry of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, at present, in China, the application field of industrial robots has covered 52 major industries such as automobiles, electronics, metallurgy, light industry, petrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals, and 143 intermediate industries. In 8 years, it has become the world’s largest consumer of industrial robots, and in 2020, the density of manufacturing robots will reach 246 units per 10,000 people, nearly twice the global average.”
Technology precipitation, seedlings grow into big trees
In the field of industrial robots, China is the largest consumer and the largest producer. Behind the two “biggest” is the grand picture of China’s industrial Robot Industry struggling to catch up and gradually reversing the situation of external dependence, and it is also an inspirational story of countless seedlings growing into big trees.
In 2005, Chen Hongbo, who had earned tens of millions of yuan from the synthetic stone material business, and his partners made a decision: to establish Jiateng and enter AGV research and development. Chen Hongbo has experienced the pain of handling, and often hears customers complain that handling materials is time-consuming and laborious. He and his partners see unlimited business opportunities here: Which factory doesn’t need to be moved? Moreover, the threshold of mobile robot technology is high, and it can be iteratively upgraded. The market space is large and it is more promising.
However, the road ahead has not been smooth. The products that were just made at the beginning were not qualified by the standards of the time: they were called robots, but they only had two buttons to control the direction, and they staggered when they walked. They were not intelligent and automated at all. Customers came to visit There have also been embarrassing scenes of “strikes”.
Even if the product is not available, even if the money is lost to pay off the loan, even if the family is puzzled, it will not stop their determination to continue in this field. “If you make money, you have to do it, and if you lose money, you have to persevere. Mastering the core technology requires patience and craftsmanship.” Although it is difficult to start a business again, Chen Hongbo always has confidence.
The “original” robot is displayed in the exhibition hall at Jiateng’s headquarters in Foshan, Guangdong province, and Chen Hongbo is happy to tell its story to visitors. After 17 years of technical precipitation, Jiateng Robot has launched 6 generations of AGVs, serving more than 60 Fortune 500 companies, and selling thousands of mobile robots annually.
Holding the core technology tightly in the hand is also the only way for Canop to gain a foothold in the market. However, Canop initially aimed not at the whole machine, but at the core component controller – this is a “stuck neck” product. “The controller is like the human brain. What kind of knowledge reserve is required for doing things. The controller is where the robot stores ‘knowledge’ and is the key component that determines the performance of the robot.” Deng Shihai gave the reporter an analogy.
Where is the difficulty with the controller? The “brain circuits” of robots and humans are very different, and every action of the robot needs to be “knocked” a little bit. In the case of situations other than those set by the program, the robot can do nothing. Therefore, in the design process, various problems in the usage scene should be considered as much as possible. Taking welding as an example, robot welding not only needs to be stable, accurate and fast to avoid waste, but also has sufficient anti-interference ability in a strong current environment, otherwise it is easy to be misled and cause failure.
Canop has thought of many ways, one of which is to add a feedback confirmation program, to return the received abnormal signal to the original path, to see if the same command can be received – just like when people hear incredible news, they need to confirm repeatedly In the same way, the disturbance signal can be largely avoided to affect the stability of the controller.
In the seven years from its establishment in 2012 to 2019, Canopy focused on the core components, and it was not until its controller made half of the domestic industrial robot market that it made a strong entry into the whole robot machine. According to Deng Shihai, all of Canop’s controllers, integrated drive and control technologies and robot body structure are independently developed and designed. He believes that after years of hard work, domestic robot manufacturers have accelerated breakthroughs in key technologies and components, innovative achievements have emerged, the performance of the whole machine has been greatly improved, and functions have become more and more abundant. Independent production capacity of the industrial chain.
Anchoring the future, the scenery is even more dangerous
While seeing the achievements, we must also have a clear understanding of the deficiencies. “Compared with the world’s advanced level, China’s robot industry still has a certain gap, and the stability and reliability of key components cannot meet the needs of high-performance complete machines.” Wang Weiming said.
Zhao Weifeng, chairman of Foshan Longshen Robot Co., told reporters that durability is an important indicator to measure the manufacturing level of industrial robots. In this regard, domestic brands need to work harder. He said that in the world’s largest Industrial Robot market, the advantage of domestic manufacturers is to better understand and quickly respond to customer needs. Competition for service levels is king.”
Zhao Weifeng believes that a new track must be established. In addition to the robot body, Longshen established a hydrogen energy business department in 2017, and within five years, it has realized the whole line automation solution from plant planning to finished stack production. The dislocation competition has brought extremely considerable profit growth to the company.
Not long ago, 15 departments including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the “14th Five-Year Plan for Robot Industry Development”, proposing that by 2025, a batch of robot core technologies and high-end products will make breakthroughs, the comprehensive indicators of the whole machine will reach the international advanced level, and the performance of key components will be achieved. and reliability have reached the international level of similar products. Specific to industrial robots, the key tasks include the development of high-precision and high-reliability welding robots, vacuum (clean) robots for automatic handling, intelligent movement and storage for the semiconductor industry, and large-load, light-duty robots for 3C, auto parts and other fields. , flexible, dual-arm, mobile and other collaborative robots.
In the past few days, there is good news from Jiateng: the first 20-ton differential AGV drive unit in China has been launched.motorAnd the reducer has achieved independent research and development, and its performance has reached the international advanced level, which is undoubtedly a boost for domestic brands that are relatively backward in the field of heavy-duty AGVs.
Jiateng also set a vision of “realizing transportation and rescue on Mars”. In Chen Hongbo’s view, the large-scale application of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G, big data, and cloud computing is both a challenge and an opportunity for robot manufacturers. The infinite scenery is in danger. In the future, it is necessary to strengthen core technology research and promote the integration of robots and new technologies. applications, allowing robots to achieve greater potential.
Deng Shihai felt the same way. In Longtan Industrial Park, Chenghua District, Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, the construction of Canop Smart Factory is in full swing. The factory covers an area of nearly 40,000 square meters. The top-level planning and design are carried out in accordance with the framework of automation, intelligence and digitalization. By building an intelligent manufacturing system, it realizes “robots making robots” to ensure stable quality and performance of robots and enhance comprehensive competitiveness. “The advantage of an international brand is not formed in one or two years, and surpassing it cannot be achieved in a short period of time. It is impossible to achieve the development goals of the robot industry in the 14th Five-Year Plan. It requires the joint efforts of all sectors of society.” Deng Shihai believes that to strengthen the industry Collaborate, consolidate the industrial foundation, optimize the industrial ecology, deepen international exchanges and cooperation, accelerate the cultivation of advantageous and characteristic industrial clusters, and bring the domestic robot industry to a higher level.