Samsung developing robots to replace cheap Chinese labour

The country’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said the $16.75 billion won ($14.8m, £9.57m) investment would help manufacturers compete with cheap labour in China, reports Wired.

According to the Yonha News Agency, Samsung will be tasked with developing high-precision robots that are currently expensive and often imported from abroad. The ministry expects work to be completed by late 2018.

Samsung will build precision speed reducers, motors, controllers and sensor encoders. The plan, the ministry said, was for South Korean robots to pick up work normally done by low-wage Chinese workers.

The robots will eventually be put to work making products such as mobile phones and other consumer electronics that require the level of precision often only possible with human hands.

Samsung, as with many other large smartphone manufacturers, relies heavily on cheap Chinese labour to manufacture its products. But rising wages in China are squeezing profit margins, making the development of more automated factories a priority.

“Once affordable robots reach the market and are more widely used, it can lead to the creation of ‘smart factories’ and bring about far-reaching innovations to the manufacturing sector,” the ministry said in a statement.