Korean Robot Makers Ride On Strong Demand for Smart Factory to New Highs

Digital transformation, or DX is one of the hottest investment sectors in Korea, as the country is now trying to rebuild its manufacturing infrastructure around AI, IoT, Big Data Analytics, 5G, and robots in what’s called smart factory build-up campaign.

The Korean government is now aggressively helping create a smart manufacturing ecosystem, incentivizing Korean manufacturers to rebuild their factories around DX platform.

To capitalize on that demand pull-in, the country’s 5G mobile service providers, AI and IoT solution vendors, and robot makers are heavily betting on the smart factory market.

Especially, robot makers are coming into focus, as they are suddenly becoming top-picks in the Korean stock market.

The Korean government aims to nurture the country’s robot industry as a 15 trillion won-a-year market by 2023 with an ambitious plan to help deploy 10, 000 robots across manufacturing and service sectors. That growth potentials are spelling out bright future for the country’s robot makers.  

Cases in points are the country publicly-listed robot-related makers that include Hyundai Movex Co., Ltd, Robostar, RS Automation, Hyulim Robot., Co. Ltd, SP Systems, THiRA-UTECH, Co., Ltd., SMEC, and TPC Mechatronics, to just name 7.

A spin-off of Rockwell & Samsung Automation, a JV between Rockwell and Samsung Electronics, is a maker of robot motion control solution. Its product line varies from smart factory solutions to PLC, or programmable logic controller, motion controller, distributed IOs, drives or motors, sensors, and touch panels, which are all crucial components to assemble robots for smart factories.

The robot maker is the only one in Korea that produces motion controllers, drives, and sensors – three most crucial part of robots.     

What motion controller is for robots is what brain is for human, for example. Sensors work as an eye for robots, while drives or motors are the equivalent of human muscles for robots.

RS Automation keeps its manufacturing lines humming to meet a flood of orders both at home and aboard, as semiconductor and OLED fabrication facilities are rapidly digitizing their fab operations.

15 Trillion Won-A-Year Market

Especially, its robot motion controller line has been running at a full throttle since the 3rd quarter of fiscal 2021 to meet a rush of orders from its customers. The company has been supplying Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor, LG Display, SK Hynix, and Hanwha Machinery.

The company is aggressive in overseas market, too, serving customers in 21 countries. Yet, the company still represents 3% of global market share, but aims to expand its reach to double it to 6% by 20253, mainly focusing on U.S. and Chinese market.

The company has a long-term ambition to expand into service robot market beyond robots for manufacturing, combining its hard-earned expertise in AI with robot motion controlling technologies.

Robostar is a maker of industrial robots that mainly supply semiconductor and flat panel display industries. Its transfer robots are used to load and unload wafers and glass substrates. LG Electronics acquired a 30% stake in the company in 2018 to set up a beachhead in a next generation of smart and autonomous manufacturing system market.  

Since then, Robostar’s robot technologies serve as key building block to rebuild LG’s manufacturing facilities around a smart factory platform.

Robostar is one of LG’s robo-related subsidiaries like robot emotion recognition start-up Acryl, robot developer Robotiz, and U.S.-based development company Bossa Nova Robotics.

The company is supplying a wide variety of robots ranging from transferring robots to linear robots to articulated robots to desktop robots to picker robots.

THiRA-UTECH is a total solution provider for smart manufacturing and factory automation, supplying a wide range of solution from workflow and production planner and scheduler to Big Data Analytics to quality analysis to logistics control solution and logistics robots.

The company mainly supplies chipmaker SK hynix and EV battery maker SK Innovation. It is now working together with Korean autonomous robot maker Clobot Co., Ltd. to jointly develop and manufacture self-driving robots.