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Hanwha seeks bigger presence in burgeoning global robotics market

Korea’s 7th-largest conglomerate joins chaebol rivals on robotics bandwagon

Oct. 4, 2023 - 14:50 By Kan Hyeong-woo
Kim Dong-sun (right), the youngest son of Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn and executive director at Hanwha Hotels & Resorts, checks out Hanwha's collaborative robot at the company's future technology lab in Gyeonggi Province in September. (Hanwha Robotics)

Hanwha Group, South Korea's seventh-largest conglomerate, officially launched its robotics firm Hanwha Robotics on Wednesday, aiming to take the lead in the burgeoning global robotics market.

Hanwha Corp./Momentum and Hanwha Hotels & Resorts set up a joint venture for Hanwha Robotics, holding 68 percent and 32 percent of the shares in the new entity, respectively. Hanwha Corp./Momentum will acquire 28,293,195 shares of Hanwha Robotics, valued at about 42.4 billion won ($31.8 million).

Kim Dong-sun, the youngest son of Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn and executive director at Hanwha Hotels & Resorts, has taken on the leadership position of Hanwha Robotics’ strategic planning department.

“Robots will be an important business that can enhance the quality of human life. We will develop robots that can be used in various areas such as food tech and security services,” said Kim. “Although it’s important to create profits, the essence of the robotics industry is to make people’s lives comfortable and efficient.”

According to the National Research Council of Science and Technology, the collaborative robot industry, which Hanwha has focused on, is expected to become a global market worth 6.88 trillion won in 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 40 percent or higher.

Hanwha Robotics said it will look to increase its global market share in the collaborative robotics industry as it looks to expand its robot lineup with the development of service applications that can be utilized by customers with collaborative robots. The company added that it will push to develop surveillance robots that incorporate autonomous driving technology.

“So far, over 60 percent of Hanwha’s collaborative robot sales have been made in North America and Europe,” said a Hanwha Robotics official. “Compared to major countries, (South Korea’s) robotics market is small but we will actively participate in the competition for the global market with various (robot) lineups.”

Hanwha Robotics currently has a foothold with over 30 locations around the world, including offices in the United States and Europe.

The company showcased its latest collaborative robot HCR-14 at the EMO 2023, one of the largest global trade fairs in the metalworking and welding sectors, in Hanover, Germany, last month. It said the new collaborative robot has improved movements as the communication speed between the control and robot has been upgraded to 2,000 times per second.

Hanwha Corp./Momentum Executive Director Seo Jong-hwi, who has been appointed to the CEO position at Hanwha Robotics, said, “We will focus on the global collaborative robot market based on our strengths of excellent quality and trust built through the technology of designing detailed machines and automation.”

“We will continue to invest in developing core software technology that can increase the added value of the robotics business,” he added.

The establishment of Hanwha Robotics follows in line with other Korean conglomerates such as Samsung and Doosan in investing in the robotics industry, as they bet on robots as among the most important future growth engines.

Samsung Electronics has particularly shown active interest in the robotics business, as the company invested about 87 billion won in Rainbow Robotics. Samsung Electronics holds a 14.83 percent stake in the local robotics firm. The chip giant also invested 3 billion won in Neubility, a startup specializing in developing autonomous driving robots.

Doosan Robotics, the country’s largest collaborative robot developer, is set to debut on the Kospi main bourse on Thursday. The company raked in record deposits for this year with 33 trillion won. The stock price has been set at 26,000 won.