The new favorite of the organization, Eston, the four families of hard steel

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The robot concept unit staged another scene with the popularity of ChatGPT and the latest rumors of Musk humanoid robots. However, compared to the surge in buying and selling power of Chinese and foreign investors last year, Aston’s performance this time was much milder.
As the leader of domestic robots, Aston was previously unknown in the A-share market, but after the first batch of domestic industrial robots shipped more than 10000 units in 2021, Aston became the most dazzling star in the research market in 2022, with over 2700 institutions lagging behind. In the past, only Hikvision, Mindray Medical and Huichuan Technology had a market value of over 100 billion, while Aston only had a small amount of over 20 billion.
Acquire to become the first in China
In 2023, Eston’s 30th year of establishment entered the ranks of “longevity enterprises” as Wang Jianlin called them. Although compared to Huichuan Technology, which is 10 years younger, its market value is only 1/9. But in the ranks of robots, Aston is a well-deserved leader in China.
Of course, Aston is not born for industrial robots, but as its business expands, it gradually extends from CNC systems to servo systems and industrial robots. The application range of products has also expanded from the metal forming machine tool industry to a wider range of mechanical equipment manufacturing industries such as textile machinery, packaging machinery, printing machinery, electronic machinery, as well as intelligent production, handling, sorting, spraying, and other fields of welding, mechanical processing, and assembly.
The New Favorite of Mechanism: Four Families of Eston Hard Steel
When it was launched in 2015, Aston’s products already covered CNC systems, electro-hydraulic servo systems, AC servo systems, industrial robots, and complete sets of equipment. However, at that time, China had demonstrated the attractiveness of the world’s largest robot market, and domestic industry giants had set off a wave of cross-border transformation and set out to “mop up” at sea. CSR acquires British SMD, Evert acquires CMA, Huachangda acquires American DMW, Wolong Electric acquires Italian SIR, and Junsheng Electronics acquires German Pri and IMA.
In the face of this situation, Eston couldn’t wait to die. Therefore, after listing, Aston fully utilized the advantages of the capital market to enrich its arsenal around intelligent manufacturing,
From 2016 to 2017, Aston completed seven acquisitions, including four overseas acquisitions. In 2016, Eston acquired a 20% stake in Italian machine vision company Euclid Labs SRL; In 2017, it acquired all the equity of TRIO, a British sports control manufacturer, to open up the industrial chain of intelligent equipment core control functions; Participated in BARRETT in the United States to expand the fields of micro servo systems, human-machine collaborative intelligent robots, rehabilitation robots, and other fields; Acquisition of German robot system integrator MAI In 2019, Aston again focused on German companies and acquired CLOOS, the global welding robot leader.
This acquisition helped Alstom achieve an improvement in performance and scale, but it also brought some hidden dangers. In 2016, Aston’s asset liability ratio was only 21.86%, but in 2017, it quickly rose to 49.56%, and continued to rise in subsequent years, reaching 65.04% in 2020. In contrast, Huichuan Technology, its important competitor in the fields of industrial automation and intelligent manufacturing, has seen its asset-liability ratio increase in recent years, but only around 40%.
In addition to debt, there is the goodwill that overwhelms many “heroes.”. According to the 2021 annual report, Aston’s goodwill reached 1.486 billion yuan, accounting for about 20% of its total assets. Among them, the acquisition of CLOOS from Germany alone generated about 1 billion yuan of goodwill. This is also a common price paid by domestic enterprises to obtain advanced overseas technology, such as Midea for Kuka. In any case, goodwill has become the sword of Damocles hanging over Eston’s head. Only performance can get rid of it.
Fortunately, in the past two years, with the development of new energy, the robot industry is facing unprecedented development opportunities. Eston has also advanced its layout in fields such as photovoltaic, lithium batteries, and new energy vehicles, and its net profit in 2020 doubled year-on-year to 128 million yuan. In 2021, despite experiencing a rise in the price of raw materials, Huichuan became the first local brand to ship over 10000 industrial robots, and urged Huichuan Technology to continue to remain the first in the local market, competing with Fanuc, Yaskawa, Epson, and Kuka.
Taking photovoltaic as an example, Aston has already occupied a high share in some fields of photovoltaic manufacturing, and is currently expanding into the manufacturing link of the entire photovoltaic industry chain. It is reported that Aston’s high-speed, high-precision, large-arm, large-inertia module assembly robot designed for the photovoltaic industry has become a benchmark product in the photovoltaic industry; At the same time, the battery terminal has achieved batch shipment, providing products and services to more than 100 customers in the photovoltaic industry.
Layout of the entire industrial chain, 50000 sets of production capacity on the road
In 2022, Aston will become an A-share star. Not only was it disclosed in June that foreign investment was suspended due to the red line of foreign ownership exceeding 28%, but it also became the most closely watched listed company in the research market this year. In 2022, Aston received 2783 scientific research institutions (times), five times as many as the previous year.
The organization’s bullish view of Aston is based first on the bullish outlook for industrial robots in the Chinese market, especially in the context of the aging trend, where the low density of industrial robots in China is expected to improve. At the same time, the rapid development of new energy industries such as photovoltaic, new energy vehicles, and lithium batteries has led to a significant increase in the willingness and ability of domestic industrial robots to accept, and the import substitution of key components has also brought opportunities to improve the competition between local industrial robot brands and overseas brands. This is evidenced by the fact that the shipments of industrial robots from Aston and Huichuan Technology have successively exceeded 10000 units.
To stand out from the crowd at the Golden Circuit, Eston naturally has two brushes.
According to the “Review of the Industrial Robot Market in the First Half of 2022 and Market Outlook for the Whole Year of 2022” released by Ruiye, Aston firmly ranks first among local robot manufacturers and continues to closely follow Huichuan Technology. According to Eston’s expectations, the shipment volume of industrial robots is expected to reach 16-18000 units in 2022.
In addition to the shipment volume, the “All Made By Estun” route that Eston adheres to is also the focus of the organization’s attention. In the current environment, autonomous production is not only related to safety, but also conducive to product stability, especially for robots known as “the pearl at the top of the crown of manufacturing industry”. Motion controllers, servo systems, and reducers are the core components that affect the performance of industrial robots, with a cost of approximately 70%. And machine vision is an indispensable “eye” for industrial automation.
At the time of its launch, Aston already had both electro-hydraulic servo and AC servo businesses. Several acquisitions since 2016 have opened up the upstream and downstream industrial chain of core control functional components of intelligent equipment, gaining advanced machine vision capabilities in the industry and welding robot business lacking in China.
In addition, through the acquisition of European companies, Eaton has also successfully entered the previously inaccessible high-quality customer supply chain and successfully internationalized. In 2016, Aston’s overseas revenue accounted for only 4.28%, reaching an all-time high of 44.85% by 2020.
Currently, Aston is one of the few enterprises in China that simultaneously master core technologies such as numerical control, servo system, motion control, and machine vision. At the same time, Aston is able to independently develop and produce robot ontologies and intelligent manufacturing systems with multiple downstream applications. The advantages of the entire industrial chain are obvious.
Given the blockade and hostility of Europe and the United States towards China’s high-tech sector, the organization is very concerned about the safety of Aston’s raw material supply chain. Eston stated that since 2021, the localization process of core components has been vigorously promoted. Currently, except for some models of chips, some models of speed reducers, and a small amount of special electronic materials, the main components have been localized. In terms of core reducers, harmonic reducers are basically supplied by domestic brands.
In terms of product structure, Aston has formed a six-axis robot with a load range of 3kg-600kg. It has leading customers and a large market share in new energy, metal processing, 3C, engineering machinery, aerospace and other industries. In a survey last September, Aston stated that the proportion of medium and large robots with a weight of over 100 kg is growing rapidly. The use scenarios mainly include handling, tightening, palletizing, stamping, bending, gluing, etc., and have been applied to multiple industries such as photovoltaic, lithium batteries, automotive components, and die casting.
Looking forward to 2023, Aston expects its annual production capacity of industrial robots to reach 50000 units, and its delivery target will further increase to 25000 units, approximately five times that of 2020. In terms of downstream applications, Aston focuses on new energy sources such as lithium batteries and photovoltaic, automotive and automotive components, and various welding applications, while also emphasizing the need to expand the coverage of downstream applications.
New business, new partners, and old competitors
At the end of 2022, collaborative robots received widespread media attention due to the launch guidance of Jieka Robot and Yuejiang Robot. In fact, in the first half of 2022, the amount of financing for the primary market in the field of collaborative robots reached as high as $4 billion, of which nearly half was a large amount of financing of hundreds of millions of yuan. The D-round financing amount of card savings jointly led by Temasek Holdings, Softbank Vision Fund Phase II, and Prosperity 7 Ventures, a diversified venture capital fund owned by Saudi Aramco, even reached 1 billion yuan.
And BARRETT, an American company in which Aston took a stake in 2017, mainly engages in micro servo and rehabilitation robots, as well as collaborative robots. In the targeted placement launched in 2021, Aston’s investment in medical and collaborative robotics also increased significantly. Among them, 114 million yuan was invested in the “Development Project of Industrial and Service Intelligent Cooperative Robots and Core Components” and 102 million yuan was invested in the “Development Project of Specialized Cooperative Robots for Medical Surgery”, posing a challenge to the leader in the field of surgical robots, “Da Vinci.”.
Aside from hardware, Aston is also ambitious in software. Also in this fixed increase, Aston invested 134 million yuan in the “new generation intelligent control platform and application software development project”. The project includes four items: robot intelligent control software, robot virtual simulation software, robot industry interconnection control software, and drive and control integrated safety control software. The ultimate goal is to build itself into a software and hardware integration company with “automation software” as its core competitiveness.
While expanding its business, Aston’s “circle of friends” is also expanding.
In 2021, CRRC Digital Technology Co., Ltd. signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Aston to jointly develop advanced technologies and products based on industrial digitization, industrial production line automation, and industrial robots. In December 2022, Aston and Jingsheng Electromechanical reached a strategic cooperation agreement. The two sides will establish a joint venture to jointly promote the development of overseas business. Previously, Aston’s CLOOS and Sany Heavy Industries jointly built Sany Heavy Industries Shenyang Intelligent Factory. Listed companies such as Jingshan Light Machinery and Zhengmei Machinery are also partners of Aston.
However, for Eston, the road ahead is not smooth. In addition to the large gap between ABB and the four major families in terms of technology level, brand strength and market share, ABB’s production scale in Chinese Mainland has also expanded significantly, and the industry competition is fierce.
The threat of local brand Huichuan Technology cannot be ignored. Although officially entering the industrial robot market in 2016, Huichuan Technology has strong strength in servo systems, PLC, and other fields. It has also achieved over 10000 industrial robot shipments for two consecutive years, approaching Aston.
Facing the future, Aston’s biggest competitor may no longer be the four major families, but now closely followed by Huichuan Technology.

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