The giant orange robotic arms that swiftly weld together car frames at the Great Wall Motors factory in Baoding might seem like the perfect answer to China’s fast-rising labor costs – they don’t ask for a raise, get injured or go on strike.
For Great Wall, a private sector Chinese car maker that employs 50,000 workers, the Swiss robots and other machinery that line its bright factory floor produce more than cost savings. The company hopes they will help it build cars good enough to compete with the global auto makers.
“You don’t have to be an expert see the (quality) gap between Chinese cars and those made by companies like Audi and Volkswagen,” said Li Shaohui, who oversees automatic control engineering for the company. “To beat those competitors we have no choice but to use a higher level of equipment and technology.”
From car plants to microchip foundries, China’s industrial sector increasingly runs by machine.
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