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ACM TechNews

China's Factories Automate as Worker Shortage Looms

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An auto worker assembling a vehicle in a factory operated by Beijing Benz Automotive.

Workers are in short supply for the factories that have driven much of China's growth, pushing wages up.

Credit: Evelyn Cheng/CNBC

China's working-age population has dropped by more than 5 million in the last decade, and factories are responding to the labor shortage with automation.

Home appliance giant Midea has rolled out a three-year plan to outfit its 34 factories with more technology.

Midea's Shirley Zhou said its two factories that have implemented sensors and robots have seen an almost 30% jump in assembly efficiency.

Datacenter operator Equinix's Jeremy Deutsch said technology to track and analyze global production is of particular interest, and factory digitalization is fueling demand for datacenters.

Said Victor Du at consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal Asia, “As a society, the concern should (be) achieving the same level of manufacturing output, or even higher quality, higher output, with a lower population after 20, 30 years. If you look at this point, digitalization or upgrading of technology will be very necessary.”

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