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Cixing Industry 4.0: Let SMEs also can use robots

As the industry gradually matures, labor costs have been on the rise, but on the contrary, the cost of robot parts is declining, and industrial robots are suitable for 24-hour uninterrupted production, becoming the main force in the future production process. It seems to have become an indisputable fact.

Industrial robots, that is, robots used in the production and manufacturing fields, aim to achieve automation and intelligence, which makes many SMEs consciously unable to use. However, in the view of Sun Pingfan, chairman of Ningbo Cixing Co., Ltd, and Li Lijun, chairman of Cixing Robotics Co., Ltd, the strong demand of SMEs for them is only temporarily overshadowed by high investment funds. In the future, industrial robots will inevitably enter SMEs and serve it.

Due to the asymmetry of supply and demand in the robot integrated application industry, as the world's largest manufacturer of flat knitting machines, Cixing decided to enter the field of system integration after setting up a controller for 6-axis robots in 2013. Cixing Robot Technology Co., Ltd set out to seek a new business model for industrial robot application.

Do the robots that companies need

Li Lijun believes that SMEs actually have a great demand for robots: "Now the internet thinks that we have to do 'poor economy' and pay attention to the low-level users with very large bases. I think that is also the service of corporate services. ', is a good choice."

After research, Cixing found that the demand for SMEs for production-oriented industrial robots has in fact been suppressed. "A multi-million-dollar industrial robot naturally leaves small and medium-sized enterprises far away. I think that in order for robots to enter SMEs, the price of the robot application system must be lowered first." Sun Pingfan said.

Of course, the requirements of SMEs for producing robots are also different from those of large companies. For example, many small and medium-sized enterprises in Zhejiang are still relatively low level, and the requirements for production accuracy are not high. They hope that robots can first replace repetitive manual labor to improve production efficiency and reduce production costs, and at the same time can be applied to high noise, dusty working environments.

In addition to technical factors, there are financial factors. “The SMEs have been surveyed and hoped to recovery in two years, up to three years. Because SMEs are more sensitive to future uncertainties, they can only control production within 2~3 years in case of market fluctuations." Li Lijun said. Therefore, Li Lijun's positioning of Cixing robot is to provide a cost-effective industrial robot application solution for SMEs.

As far as the industrial robot application system is concerned, just selling is not enough. How to train the employees of the company to learn and use, is a major issue. The solution they gave was that Cixing Robot relied on the foundation of Cixing Co., Ltd to establish a perfect after-sales service network. In the initial stage, Cixing fully assumed the training responsibility. "Of course, this is just a drop in the bucket. Only a socialized training system can solve this problem completely. Any employee can operate a variety of industrial robots after studying at a training school. After the establishment of a socialized training system, production companies no longer need to pay too much for the training of their employees."

Focus on system integration

Today's industrial robot companies mostly like to take the whole industry link line, but after the analysis of the market, Cixing abandoned the route and decided to enter the industrial robot industry as a system integrator. "Cixing only wants to concentrate on the application of industrial robots - let the robot really play a role in the production process, instead of pursuing the entire industry chain." Li Lijun said.

Cixing has designed a business model that is different from the traditional one: focusing on system integration, not producing robot body, but choosing to purchase mature production robots at home and abroad, and then setting production according to customer needs and production scenarios. The program sells customized industrial robot systems to customers and provides after-sales services.

The core hardware of Cixing Robot comes from the best and most cost-effective robot body supplier in the world, such as KUKA, Kawasaki and Eft. The software is customized according to the specific production process requirements. Inject the control program to let the robot know what to do and how to do it. “The simplest robot application we offer is that the worker only needs to start, pause, and close the button. The advantage of this model is that the Cixing robot does not need to start development from scratch, and does not need to invest a lot of money. Construction of the production line, the funding pressure will not be very large." Li Lijun said.

Cixing's daring to enter the industrial robot industry and establish the base of the Cixing Robot Company lies in its accumulation of more than 10 years in the field of intelligent knitting equipment. Cixing have research and development teams in Ningbo, Switzerland and Italy, to conduct in-depth research on the production automation of the knitting industry. Cixing intelligent knitting equipment is no less than the general industrial robot, no matter the precision of the mechanical structure or the complexity of its control system. In fact, the basic principles, hardware structure and underlying software of the control system are highly interconnected, and only differ in the details of the application-level algorithms and hardware I/O boards.

Cixing has been developing and producing controllers for smart knitting flat knitting machines since 2003, and the control system is one of the four major components of industrial robots. Cixing learned from the production experience of the flat knitting machine controller. In 2013, it cooperated with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to develop a 6-axis robot control system and put it into production in Wuhu, Anhui. This is the most advanced domestic robot control system and the only domestic batch commercially. Li Lijun believes that the competitive advantage of Cixing robots compared to other peers is largely due to the mastery of this core technology, which means that Cixing has the ability to independently provide customers with a complete set of robot application solutions.

The robot industry is not only a technology-intensive industry, but also a capital-intensive, high-end talent-intensive industry. Cixing robots need to be bigger and stronger, and they need larger capital investment. The deployment of industrial robot systems by customers also requires a lot of money. . Then, how to reduce the application cost of industrial robots? Li Lijun hopes that governments can make policy changes to help enterprise, not only subsidies after the deployment of enterprises, but also need to give certain funds before deployment support, “We will provide high-quality SME customers with a variety of payment methods such as seller credit and installment payment in the process of cooperation.”

2016 will be the first year of the outbreak

“The substitution of machines and substitution of imports is the consistent goal of Cixing, whether in flat knitting machine or robot.” Sun Pingfan said, “In the field of textile machinery, the degree of automation of products is high, and the application of industrial robots has a certain technical foundation. Cixing robots have now begun to develop in general industrial applications such as welding, grinding, assembly, etc." Cixing chose to formally enter the robotic system integration business this year because we judged that the domestic industrial robot application explosion time will be the second half of 2016. .

According to the plan, Cixing robot will start from the textile industry, give priority to the strong demand for robots in Zhejiang manufacturing industry and promote the localization of the industrial robot industry chain. “I will do the project first, and after the core technology and management team are stable, take a small step and go through the appropriate mergers and acquisitions to achieve scale before the explosive growth of the industrial robot market in China.” Li Lijun said.

It is reported that Cixing Robot will adopt a market expansion model that is not exactly the same as Cixing. In addition to learning from the successful marketing model of Cixing, it will also build marketing system based on the concept of “4S shop” in the automobile sales industry. The marketing system of robots sets up 4S shops of industrial robot systems in main market areas, and participates in the control, output management, technology, brand and other resources to achieve standardized services such as one-stop product sales, spare parts supply, training and after-sales service. The concept of "service is by your side", which has always been advocated by Cixing, is also embedded in the business field of robots.