National intelligent manufacturing industry leads the way

26 Jun 2019

“Intelligent manufacturing is the core of Industrial 4.0. I’m very optimistic for the next era - intelligent manufacturing in which China will play an important role in the world.”

The words of Qu Daokui, CEO of Shenyang Siasun Robot & Automation Co., Ltd. impressed me a lot; his confidence aroused my curiosity, I couldn’t wait to find out more about this rising star in China’s manufacturing industry.

Two weeks ago, I went to a “robot factory” in Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning province for an investigative report. This “robot factory”, Siasun, is a high-tech listed enterprise belonging to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which places robotic technology as its core and focuses on intelligent design.

Hundreds of types of robots, all with different functions and capabilities, made me realize how robotics will change our lives - from production to consumption.

Manual laborers can be released from arduous and repetitive task on the production line by industrial robots. Nursing staff can be free from physically demanding work by medical robots. And no need to worry about your parents in their old age, service robot will assist them to live healthier lives.

After visiting all the factories in Siasun, I first interviewed head engineer Tan Xueke, who is in charge of the Clean Room Robot, which is a successful product in China’s semiconductor industry.

“It is not as its name suggests, Clean Room Robot is widely used in the semiconductor or IC equipment industry” said Tan, “You can think of it as a human’s arms that can carry delicate components, like microchips.”

He showed us different kinds of Clean Room Robots. These robots demand a high level of decontamination; I was asked to wear a decontaminated suit and the equipment had to be thoroughly checked for dust and dirt before I could use it.

“This product uses magnetic fluid sealing techniques, and has a Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) certification…You feel like this robot is far from our daily lives right? Actually, smartphone chips are handled by our Clean Room Robot”.

This is my first impression of Tan; he looks like a typical science engineer. But when he begins to talk about robots, he cannot stop. It feels like this equipment is alive in his eyes.

“I’ve liked machines and robots ever since my childhood. Robots in motion have always caught my eye. When I work on products for autonomous production lines, I’m intoxicated with the artistry of it all; nothing worth mentioning beyond this.” Tan Xueke joined Siasun after his graduation in 2009. From scientific software developer to a head engineer, his focus is on the Clean Room Robot.

The name “Clean Room Robot” can be misleading, rather than being some kind of domestic roomba robot, like most people assume it is, the clean room robot works in a vacuum and handles very delicate equipment, such as microchips.

During the early days of China’s semiconductor industry, Siasun broke the mould with the Clean Room Robot manufacturing techniques, which has dominated national industry markets. You could say that China’s semiconductor industry would not have been considered successful if it wasn’t for the Clean Room Robot.

“Siasun has the responsibility to keep pushing its limitations and become a monopoly as the only supplier in this field in China”, said Tan.

Siasun’s Clean Room Robot has up to 95 percent of the market. Its efficiency means that it can reduce manufacturing costs to up to 50 percent compared to the same products made by foreign companies.

“A few days ago, I went to visit some of my clients to check our products. I’m sincerely proud of what we’ve produced. No matter the appearance or performance, from a production stand point there is no difference between domestic or imported products. ”

At present, Siasun’s market value is 3rd globally within the robotic industry, showing a fast rate of growth. Surprisingly, this enterprise only had less than 40 people 19 years ago. Those young engineers got together because of a unified dream of building a national high-tech enterprise and to make it world famous.

With the intelligent era around the corner, I expect Siasun will continue to create new robots and China will contribute its wisdom to the world.

By Li Siyue | chinadaily.com.cn

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