(Yicai Global) March 22 -- China's leading home appliance maker Midea Group Co. will set up a joint venture with robotics giant KUKA Aktiengesellschaft, which it controls, to increase the German firm's robot production capacity in China.
Kuka plans to combine its Chinese business and its smart logistics arm Swisslog Holding AG's Chinese business by setting up a JV with Midea, with both companies owning 50 percent each, the home appliance maker said today.
Kuka will build a new production base in Shunde technology industrial park in Foshan, the southeastern Guangdong province, with an annual robot production capacity of 75,000 by 2024, which will bring Kuka's total production volume in China to 100,000 units per year, Midea said.
The establishment of the JV marks the first step in Midea's development plans after its acquisition of Kuka, said Fang Hongbo, chairman of Midea, adding that the two companies will consolidate their advantageous resources to form a complete industrial chain and will continue to develop the industrial and consumer robotics market to promote the implementation of its "human-robot new era" strategy.
"Kuka and Midea complement each other very well. The collaboration brings us closer to our goal of becoming number one in robotics in China," said Till Reuter, CEO of Kuka.
The JV will engage in three major businesses including industrial robots, health care and automated warehousing to adapt to the rapid development of the smart manufacturing, smart health care, smart logistics and new retail sectors in China, Midea said on its WeChat official account.
Midea acquired a 94.55 percent stake in Kuka for EUR4.5 billion (USD5.56 billion) in 2016. Founded in Augsburg, Germany, in 1995, Kuka is the world's leading industrial robot maker. The company's robots are widely used in automobile manufacturing by such carmakers as Volkswagen AG, Ford Motor Co. and Daimler AG.
China sold 87,000 industrial robots in 2016, up 27 percent year-on-year, making it the biggest robot market in the world in terms of annual sales, showed data from the International Federation of Robotics, professional umbrella organization. Sales of industrial robots are set to grow 15 percent to 20 percent per year over the next three years in China, it estimates.