China smartphone company Xiaomi Corp. will build a next-generation, fully automated and unmanned factory that can make more than 10 million handsets a year. A company official said the factory is the next step for it to take on the international high-technology electronics market.
Xiaomi's founder and chief executive Lei Jun said the robotic factory was its next step given the success of its first smart factory in Yinzhuang. The factory in the economic and technology area of Beijing - spread over an area of 18,600 square meters - is fully automated and has been in operation for more than six months.
Unlike its new factory, the one in Yinzhuang can make around 1 million premium smartphones a year. It has an autonomous production line that requires minimal human presence. Lei didn't say how much it will cost.
"With China facing a complicated international business environment, smart manufacturing is the way forward for enterprises. Through independent innovation, Xiaomi hopes to popularize industrial robots and reduce manufacturing costs to one-tenth of the present level," Lei said.
Xiaomi has been accelerating spending in high-technology research and development - including frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and big data. It had set up a multimillion-dollar fund to spend on startups.
Lei said that Xiaomi had already spent more than 10 billion yuan ($1.48 billion) on research and development since the start of the year. Xiaomi is willing to spend even more.
To fund its projects, Xiaomi wants to sell more of its phones overseas. Lei said it was making significant progress in the Europe market where it plans to become a market leader over the next three to five years. During its second quarter, Xiaomi reported a 10% year-on-year increase in its overseas revenues to about 24 billion yuan. Overseas revenues represented 44.9% of the company's total for the period.