Huachangda Intelligent Equipment, a Chinese industrial robot integrator primarily servicing China’s auto industry, has acquired Swedish Robot System Products (RSP), a 2003 spin-off from ABB with 70 employees in Sweden, Germany and China, for an undisclosed amount. RSP manufactures grippers, welding equipment, tool changers and other peripheral products for robots.
Last month HTI Cybernetics, a Michigan industrial robotics integrator and contract manufacturer, was acquired by Chongqing Nanshang Investment Group for around $50 million. HTI provides robotic welding systems to the auto industry and also has a contract welding services facility in Mexico.
China is in the midst of a national program to develop or acquire its own technology to rival similar technologies in the West, particularly in futuristic industries such as robotics, electric cars, self-driving vehicles and artificial intelligence. China’s Made in China 2025 program will “support state capital in becoming stronger, doing better, and growing bigger, turning Chinese enterprises into world-class, globally competitive firms,” said President Xi at the recent party congress meeting in Beijing.
Made in China 2025 has specific targets and quotas. It envisions China domestically supplying 3/4 of its own industrial robots and more than 1/3 of its demand for smartphone chips by 2025, for example. These goals are backed with money: $45 billion in low-cost loans, $3 billion for advanced manufacturing efforts and billions more in other types of financial incentives and support.
Over the last two years there have been many targeted acquisitions by Chinese companies, of robotic companies in the EU and US. Following are the major ones:
The consequences of China’s relentless quest for technology acquisitions may upset global trade. Their efforts have many American and European officials and business leaders pushing for tougher rules on technology purchases. Jeremie Waterman, President of the China Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the following to the NY Times.
“If Made in China 2025 achieves its goals, the U.S. and other countries would likely become just commodity exporters to China — selling oil, gas, beef and soybeans.”