Visionary Sha Yang Ye Heralds the Rise of Taiwan's Robotics Ecosystem
 
Oct 22, 2019
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Around the world, business is booming in the field of applied robotics. But the market is intensely competitive. Is there a chance for Taiwanese companies to lead the pack in this rat race? No one can say for sure. But building a local industry cluster and stimulating local creativity is an important first step toward achieving this dream.

The shortage of workers and rising employment costs have made “Industry 4.0” and “Smart Manufacturing” the rallying cry of industries around the globe. The implementation of robotics, artificial intelligence, and automation will make manufacturing much more efficient.

In truth, industrial robots have already replaced some workers on factory assembly lines. They shoulder harder and riskier tasks such as transporting materials and welding metal. We can also find plenty of robots in our daily lives. Service robots can do anything from conducting minimally invasive surgery to cleaning your apartment. They can care for the elderly and the very young, they can clean up after them, play films for them, and play games with them.

The rise of robots means a surge in market demand. Sha Yang Ye Industrial Co. (祥儀企業), located in the Guishan Industrial Park (龜山工業區) in Taoyuan, is the global leader in the production of micro geared motors. Starting in 2005, Sha Yang Ye entered the field of applied robotics, effectively pioneering a new market for the components they manufacture.

Building an Ecosystem to Capture the Mainstream Market

However, Tsai Feng-chun (蔡逢春), CEO of Sha Yang Ye Industrial Co., feels anxious about the state of the robotics industry in Taiwan. Taiwan started later than Europe, the United States, and Japan. It cannot catch up as quickly as China. The research put into developing robotics is inadequate, and he worries Taiwan is giving up its competitive edge.

Tsai is deeply concerned that Taiwan lacks the talent to sustain a robotics industry. But how to remedy this situation? He has a vision: “We need to focus on education. We need to begin with how we educate our children. If they enjoy the experience (of robots), we can pick it up from there.”

Tsai’s solution is to create the Sha Yang Ye Robot Wonderland (機器人夢工廠). There are more than thirty kinds of robots here, including cute robots that greet guests, battle robots that climb back up after being knocked down, a robot Nezha that sways to the rhythm of temple music, and a dragon dance robot repurposed from an industrial robotic arm. The Wonderland hosts events, lessons, and robot competitions to help visiting children and adults learn about robotics, in the hope that they will continue their education in the outside world.

It may be asking too much to expect a tourism factory to revolutionize Taiwan’s robotics industry. Other relevant sectors need to get involved, such as IC design, batteries, sensors, motors, robot arms, and software systems. They need to improve their manufacturing, marketing, human resources, research, and finance. Together, they can form an industry cluster centered around robotics. By doing so, they can capture the mainstream market and create enough opportunities to share with everyone.

In order to fulfill this grand dream, Tsai has continued to invest. With help from the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration (經濟部中小企業處) at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, he secured support from the Small Business for Township Revitalization (SBTR; 中小企業城鄉創生轉型輔導計畫) program. In 2019, he created the “Smart Robotics Ecosystem Innovation Platform” (智造機器人生態圈創生平台) and invited companies from all over the supply chain to come and set up shop here for free, provided they really are inspired to devote themselves to the robotics industry.

Linking Business with Consumers to Create a New Model

Within the “Innovation Platform”, Sha Yang Ye hopes to lead by example. It will help members acquire the supplementary resources they need to develop smart robots: product design, marketing strategy, human resources, research and development, financial consultation, etc. In effect, it will “develop the industry cluster, form horizontal alliances, teach through experience, show and sell, and provide recreational activities.” If all this can be done, they aim to create an industry cluster in Taoyuan for the people of Taoyuan.

For example, the platform can bring together innovators involved in the robot business, such as companies that make electronics, hardware, technology, smart furniture, educational material, and musical instruments. Their creations can be researched, displayed, and sold together. They can also hook up with local restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions and schools in Taoyuan to jointly promote tours and educational programs. They can hold robot parties and races or provide space for research and invention. They can host road shows in remote areas to continuously cultivate robotics education. They can sell through online virtual stores or brick-and-mortar stores that both educate visitors about robots and sell components, structures, and educational material designed by members of the platform. This will enrich the content of the Wonderland’s exhibitions, and they can host a regular “international robot day” to add spice to Taoyuan’s tours and attractions.

Tsai feels that many small businesses and individual entrepreneurs want to invest in robotics, but they don’t know the way. Creating an “Innovation Platform” gives them a chance to directly experience and learn about robotics, which will naturally extend into the application of robotic inventions.

Corporate Synergy Development Center (中衛發展中心) Assistant VP Chan Wei-cheng (詹偉正), who helped Sha Yang Ye create its platform, points out that many Taiwanese small businesses and vendors lack the capability to enter the robotics industry. Others lack the channel to purchase small amounts of robot components, structures, or educational material. The existence of an innovation platform helps businesses connect directly with the market and consumers. It forms a continuous feedback loop that will create an inventive new business model.

Take a look at what’s happening: the creation and vision on display is truly astounding. Lovers of robots from across the country are coming to visit the Wonderland where they can experience and learn about robots, and where the next generation of talent may be cultivated to continue the momentum of Taiwan’s robotics industry. The innovation platform also attracts likeminded entrepreneurs to set down roots and accumulate energy to grow and develop…this is the vision coming to fruition at Sha Yang Ye.

Modus Operandi

The “Smart Robotics Ecosystem Innovation Platform” provides services that innovates Taiwan’s robotics industry in five aspects: Production, marketing, human resources, research and development, and finance management. The creation of such a platform requires the support of powerful industrial energy. Fortunately, Sha Yang Ye has this type of energy. Over the years, it has accumulated in-depth experience and the knowledge of how to invest in the industry. It has independent research and development capabilities, which is key to how it was able to successfully build the innovation platform.

Company Bio

  • Sha Yang Ye Industrial Co., “Smart Robotics Ecosystem Innovation Platform”
  • Founded: 2019
  • Technological applications: Automation, automated guided vehicle (AGV) service system, equipment for technology education, etc.
  • Business results: More than twenty companies have already signed up to join the platform. Sha Yang Ye also organizes activites such as educational events, town meetings, and on-site tours. Examples include visits to the Hutou Mountain IoT Innovation Base (虎頭山物聯網創新基地), which is a part of Taoyuan's acclaimed Asian Silicon Valley program. These excursions give companies a chance to benefit from interdisciplinary exchanges, and it fosters cooperative product design and development as well as exhibition and sales. This in turn magnifies the efficacy of the industry’s value chain and improves the effect of the industry cluster in the robotics industry from top to bottom.

    Translated by Jack C.
    Edited by Sharon Tseng

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