Labor Intensive Industry Adopts Automation
    2013-01-30 16:14:15         Web Editor: Wang Wei

From keyboards to electronic home appliances, the manufacturing industry in the Zhujiang River delta area used to be a driving force in the beginning of China's reform and opening up. But after many years of development, the labor intensive industry is undergoing great change. Robots are replacing human labor while the production efficiency has been greatly improved. Our reporter Li Dong has the details.


Peng Dingchang is a worker in Guangzhou Automobile Group's welding department in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province.

He says in the past an eight worker unit needed to spend 3 minutes on assembling. Now, by using robots, the time for assembly has been cut to 90 seconds. The automation of the manufacturing process significantly improved their factory's efficiency.

At another company Rapoo, which manufactures computer exterior equipment like keyboards and mice, a unit which used to require 10 workers now only needs one person to monitor the machine.

Deng Qiuwei is the manufacturing center chief supervisor of Rapoo Technology.

"In the past, we needed seven workers for our old U shape streamline. The seven person unit could make 2,500 products in the day shift. But now a two person work unit can produce 1,200 products. The efficiency increased by 30 to 50 percent."

The mass use of robots is a sign which indicates that the traditional labor intensive manufacturing industry in China's Zhujiang River delta area has upgraded to a new level. Ma Yiqiang, a senior staff of Guangzhou Auto Group says the trend will continue.

"In the future, according to our production plan, the work done by the robots and machines will reach more than 90 percent. The current workers will play the role of 'technical blue collars' in the future. They will be responsible for the maintenance of the machines and quality control, rather than actually doing the labor work."

The automation of the traditional labor intensive industry in the Zhujiang River delta area is the result of rising labor and HR management costs.

For instance, Deng Qiuwei says it may take them one month to train a new employee. But the highly intensive work load made many people quit, so the money and time for training were wasted not to mention the short staffing they need to deal with during the long Spring Festival holiday.

Deng says, the use of robots significantly saved their operation costs.

"In 2008, the total salary for an employee in our company was 1,500 yuan, but now the cost has risen to 5,000 yuan. We bought 75 robots last year and it freed 300 workers. Using the salary only to make a comparison, our company may need to pay additional 4 to 5 million yuan if we still use the workers rather than robots."

Companies such as Rapoo and Guangzhou Auto Group also say while the initial investment in robots may be large, but when the increased efficiency and lower labor costs are factored in, the cost may be recouped within two to three years. So in the long run, automation is becoming the industry standard.

For CRI, I am Li Dong.


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