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2 leading Taiwanese firms form joint venture to manufacture robots

Publication Date : 22-07-2014


Leading Taiwan firms Hiwin Technology and Advantech Co. announced on Monday that a joint venture would be formed to produce robots while facilitating Taiwan's supply chain in robot production.

Witnessed by Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin and Chang Shuo-hung, vice president and general director of mechanical and systems research laboratories under the Industrial Technology Research Institute, Hiwin and Advantech signed yesterday a strategic alliance agreement in Taipei.

Hiwin is currently Taiwan's largest manufacturer of precision components for machine tools and the world's second largest supplier of ball screws, while Advanteh is Taiwan's No. 1 and the world's second largest industrial computer supplier.

According to the joint venture agreement, Advantech LNC Technology Co., an Advantech subsidiary, will contribute know-how in controlling applications in the joint research and development effort, in which Hiwin is expected to provide the alliance with hardware production technology.

The two companies said that in the initial stages, the Hiwin-Advantech joint venture will take aim at product integration, and later it will become a stepping stone for Taiwan's machine companies to develop robot manufacturing for industrial use and artificial intelligence robots for the service sector.

The ultimate motive, they said, is to incubate a local and international enterprise which is equipped with the capability to produce high-end turnkey factory-level intelligent automation solutions while enhancing Taiwan's supply chain for robot production.

Hiwin kicked off its own robot production as part of efforts to diversify its product portfolio, and in the first half of this year the company has shipped a small number of robots per month.

According to Hiwin chairman Chuo Yung-tsai, his company's robots currently are used to strengthen production automation for manufacturers, and by the end of this year, the firm will enter the field of the medical technology.

Chuo said that as the robot industry has entered a peak season in the second half of this year, it is possible that his company will ship about 100 units per month starting from July. The sharp shipment increase is predicted to boost robot sales to 10 percent of the group's 2014 revenue.

The government plans to boost Taiwan's automation and robot industry to the scale of NT$1 trillion this year, up from the more than NT$900 billion recorded in 2013.

According to Chuo, Hiwin Technologies Corp. began making single-joint articulated robots and Cartesian coordinate robots in cooperation with its subsidiary, Hiwin Mikrosystem Corp. last year, a collaboration where the parent company provides expertise in ball screws and linear guideways and the subsidiary server linear servo motors, systems and related components. A Cartesian robot, also known as a Cartesian coordinate robot, is a common type of industrial robot. It has three “arms” that each function along linear lines of control.

Chuo revealed that Hiwin's Cartesian coordinate robots are undergoing tests at silicon foundry giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), and the group began production of its multi-joint articulated robots, spider robots and wafer-handling robots this year.

The company has also made progress in health care robotics, having experimented with the prototypes co-developed with Show Chwan Memorial Hospital in Central Taiwan for micro surgery. The leg-rehabilitation robot it is developing with China Medical University in Central Taiwan has been verified to meet ISO1385 standards.

Also the bathing-assistance robot being co-developed with Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital was verified at the end of 2013 while the arm-rehabilitation robot being co-developed with National Cheng Kung University in Southern Taiwan will be verified in 2014. These medical robots will go on sale in both Taiwan and China by the end of this year.

In the first half of 2014, Hiwin posted NT$3.54 billion in consolidated sales, up 17.46 per cent from the first quarter after its June sales hit a record high of NT$1.23 billion. In the same period, Hiwin's consolidated sales totaled NT$6.55 billion, up 26.53 per cent from a year earlier.


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