Shuzhe, director and General Manager of ROBO Technologies Automation (Suzhou)
Co., Ltd., has been interviewed by a world-class professional logistics media, MATERIAL FLOW periodical office. He deeply analyzed the topic “ROBO opened
a new path by changing from SI to key equipment supplier”.
The content edited by Editorial
Department of MATERIAL FLOW periodical office is as follows:
Mr. Tang Shuzhe, Director and General Manager of ROBO Technologies
Automation (Suzhou) Co., Ltd.
30 years ago, the enterprise of European descent had a long-term vision
and was down-to-earth with the craftsman's heart, pursuing steady and long-term
growth; 20 years ago, the founder had insights into opportunities, successfully
predicted the industry trend, and opened a new path in logistics automation; He
came to China 5 years ago and achieved amazing blowout development.
“He did not except
such success,” Tang Shuzhe, the director and General Manager of ROBO
Technologies Automation (Suzhou) Co., Ltd.(hereinafter referred to as ROBO)
said when talking about Mr. Volgger, the founder of ROBO, and the achievement
of China Region “It is believed the success of Chinese market is reasonable,
but the achievement is unexpected.”
In the first 5-year
of developing business in China, ROBO(China) handed in an amazing answer. With
rich experience on projects and technologies, the company's annual compound
growth rate exceeded 40% by 2019 with the sales of 2500 sets. Mr. Tang said, it
only took ROBO 5 years to complete the 30-year road of its headquarter in
Austria depending on the vast and dynamic intelligent logistics market in
01 Unusual Corporation Transformation Path
of Diverse Nature and Rise Abruptly based on Accumulated Strength
“At the moment, ROBO was a real system integrator” At the beginning of
its establishment in 1988, ROBO mainly provided optical fiber and cable industry
with internal-manufacturing logistics system solutions. Despite the great
number of strong rivals in European market, ROBO made a breakthrough and became
the biggest automation manufacturer in optical fiber and cable industry
worldwide. “We are a typical small but beautiful enterprise in Europe, but we
always focus on the intelligent logistics industry and concentrate on exploring
automated logistics technology," Mr. Tang talked with assurance.
ROBO’s influence is
definitely more than this. For instance, the automated logistics system project
of Swarovski, which has attracted the attention of the industry, is also its
pride. ROBO not only accumulated great capacity of highly automated solutions
for manufacturing enterprises, but also developed corresponding core equipment
through construction of projects in various industries.
Insight into the
Opportunities and Successful Transformation
After 2000, changes in supply and demand in the entire market prompted
ROBO to transform urgently. Through the cooperation with large integrators, the
founder of ROBO, Mr. Volgger, found that the company possesses a high
professional capacity of manufacturing logistics automation equipment. Thus,
the idea of defining manufacturing equipment as the company’s core
competitiveness came into his mind, he decided to change it from a system
integrator to an equipment supplier that mainly provides stacker crane. And
such related products as multi-shuttle and conveyor were derived.
Unlike the transformation of ordinary equipment manufacturer who
transformed into system integrator, ROBO found a development path that suits to
itself. Mr. Tang said: “opening a new path, making a reverse transformation, from
system integrator to equipment manufacturer, is quite successful! ROBO is like
an automobile engine manufacturer, formed a close relationship of supply chain
cooperation with system integrators who play the role of vehicle operator, and
help them with the development, design and manufacturing and provide key equipment.”
For system integrators, he explained, the joining of ROBO is a supplement and
improvement for their key equipment. The joint development, technology sharing
and customization of requirements will help the integrators to further enhance
their capability to capture projects.
02 Localization Strategy Win Speedy Success
In China, local
integrators suffer from weak domestic core professional technical capabilities.
Although they have new ideas and a team of young technical planning engineers,
they still lack the capability to manufacture key equipment. After entering
China, the company cooperated with Chinese local integrators and took advantage
of the trend to provide them with mature technology of core equipment to fill
the gap in this regard.
Predict the Market Trends Successfully
Earlier, ROBO believed that with the gradual disappearance of China ’s
demographic dividend, the cost of land is rising, and the scale of a large
number of Chinese head manufacturing enterprises and distribution enterprises
is gradually expanding, prompting it to urgently improve its own manufacturing
level. Therefore, it is inevitable to introduce automation and intelligent
technology. In those days, the application of logistics automation in China mainly
centered on such non-market industries as tobacco, electric power and
pharmaceuticals. In order to seize the market, the head enterprises of market
industries also chose to introduce automation and intelligent technology and
customers were reluctant to undertake the over-invested originally imported
equipment, nor did they trust China's equipment production technology, product
quality and reliability at the time. On this occasion, ROBO successfully
introduced the Austrian technology into China and completed the localized
manufacturing. In this way, the investment has been greatly reduced and the
product quality has been ensured, the cost performance has been improved with
the customer needs met.
Implementation of Full Localization
Full localization is ROBO’s operating strategy in China. ROBO
established a team of experts in China to better understand the demand, culture
and characteristics of the Chinese market and being more accessible. According
to Mr. Tang, the core members of the team are all top technical experts in the
field of stacker cranes, and the relevant leadership has been plowing in the
automated storage industry for 30 years.
It is precisely because these expert teams inherited the mature
automated logistics equipment technology from ROBO_Austria, ROBO can transform
advanced European technology into a process that manufacturing in local China.
Tang Shuzhe said that due to the differences in process standards and supply
chain systems between China and Occident, it is not possible to successfully
copy only with drawings. Only experienced technical and manufacturing experts
can understand differences between their standard process patterns and those
between supply chains. And then complete the transformation of drawings and
03 Each Series Product has Its Advantages
The first series of
product ROBO launched after its establishment in China, which is also the star
product commonly used in the stereoscopic warehouse in the market--Panther
Series Standard Unit Load Stacker Crane. As of now, this model has upgraded to
the third-generation new type of product. Mr. Tang introduced that the
technology of the third generation Panther keeps the original high reliability,
in the meantime, it also offers high throughput capacity to the largest extent
on the basis of long-term continuous operation. Comparing with the same model,
for the third generation Panther of ROBO, the travel speed of it can be as fast
as 240m/s, and its acceleration speed can be as fast as 1m/s2. Mr. Tang said, these
professional technologies are 30% higher than the stacker cranes of other
existing domestic brands.
Unlike the Panther Series, which has both speed and reliability, the
Cheetah Series of ROBO pursues high throughput and high accelerated speed, it
suits for small-size goods warehouses with high demand or cache warehouses with
high throughput; while the Bull Series focuses more on load capacity, ROBO has
designed and manufactured a special stacker crane with the load capacity of 12
ton. In all series products of the company, localization rate of other models
all exceed 90%, excluding the Cheetah, and each series can suit to various
storage environment, including low temperature storage.
Tang believed the hoisting capacity is one of the important indexes to
check the technology of stacker cranes because the stacker crane technology is
originated from crane. Among all the indexes, the strength of frame structure,
the structure and mode of hoisting technology, and such details as traction,
winding, rollover and tipping determine the load of stacker cranes
comprehensively. He said, the load of stacker crane manufactured by domestic
system integrator cannot be over 2 ton, while ROBO’s stacker crane with load
capacity of 2-2.5 ton or even more is a kind of special equipment, and it’s
also one of ROBO’s strengths.
04 Profound Accumulation and Intensive Rise
Many people believe
ROBO’s development in China is like “a high building rise from the flat
ground”, but it is not known that its development is gained step by step. Mr.
Tang said that the company’s rise is supported by the professional accumulation
of its headquarter in Austria and the technical accumulation of its team of
senior Chinese experts, and also because it met the trend of blowout of
logistics automation market in China. He analyzed that the manufacturing of
stacker cranes is mainly done by system integrator in the first place, and the
dealers and mechanical manufacturers do not possess the real manufacturing
capacity that integrates stacker crane’s design, R&D and manufacturing, nor
the design and development capability of electrical part, software and control
system. Therefore, ROBO can be brought to the public eye, it is more like “it
is the times produce their heroes”.
Equal Emphasis on Product and Service
From global business to focusing on Asian-Pacific region, and from China
to the world, ROBO(China)’s products have been exported to such Southeast Asian
countries as Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, and even some developed countries
like Singapore, New Zealand, Sweden and Japan. Taking the order from Japan
customer is one of ROBO’s prides in international market. It is known to all
that serious production and fixed trading mode are prevalent in Japan’s
industrial organization structure, and the import market closure caused by
industrial protection structure of Japanese government. Besides, Japan itself
has a powerful strength in stereoscopic warehouse automation logistics
technology. as a consequence, it is a sea of troubles for a non-local
enterprise to enter Japan’s market.
Taking a Japanese machinery manufacturing enterprise as an example, Tang
Shuzhe believes that customers chose ROBO not only because of the high quality
of its products, but also because they value ROBO’s perfect service system. Mr.
Tang recalled that when the customer hesitated and had no idea to choose which
company except domestic suppliers, and he couldn’t accept import European
equipment directly; the customer found a company from European and American area
that manufactures stacker crane in China, the perfect service and product
satisfied him a lot, the customer chose ROBO finally.
Large-scale Operation and Concentration on Manufacturing
As the growing of the market scale, the advantage of ROBO’s stacker
crane business scale emerges, Mr. Tang analyzed, because of the small scale of
the original logistics automation industry, the division of labor in the
industrial chain cannot take shape, which hinders the enlarging of logistics
automation equipment manufacturing scale.
on the other hand, some corresponding enterprises cannot undertake the
large investment of automated product line due to lack of resources, “some
enterprises cannot put into plenty of resources and focus on
equipment-manufacturing like professional manufacturers do”, Mr. Tang said,
“while ROBO can do this”.
In the future, ROBO will continue to adhere to the concept of craftsmen
and do more work on its products seriously, and the company will keep on
establishing its own competitive characteristics and form a win-win supply
chain system with integrators.