Robots Have Replaced Humans In 25% Of China's Ammunition Factories

Authored by Kyree Leary via,

"China has begun replacing the workers in its ammunition factories with robots... The move will reduce the number of accidents suffered by human workers, and has already increased the production of ammunition in the country."

Safer, Thanks to Robots

China is one country leading the charge when it comes to embracing robotics and artificial intelligence. Last year, the country saw the first robot dentist successfully operate on a patient, and there are plans to build an unmanned, AI-powered police station in a capital city. Both developments show signs of China’s progress to becoming a global leader in AI by 2030.

To be a leader in AI, however, also means using such technology in the workforce as a replacement for human workers. Recently, China has done so in using automation to increase its supply of bombs and artillery shells.

Speaking with the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Xu Zhigang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Shenyang Institute of Automation, said that nearly 25 percent of China’s ammunition factories have had their human workers replaced with “smart machines.” Interestingly enough, China didn’t turn to AI simply because it wants to lead AI adoption. It was instead because the factories were lacking in people who actually wanted to work in such dangerous environments.

“However high the salary offered, young people are simply not interested in working in an army ammunition plant nowadays,” said Xu. No one can really fault them for being wary of the job, though. According to SCMP, citing “research papers published in Chinese academic journals,” a significant number of accidents have occurred in recent years, with some leading to injured workers or even death.

So great were safety concerns that the 20-30 factories constructed over the last 60 years are in remote locations, or areas with much lower populations.

“One spark could lead to a huge explosion and reduce the plant to a crater,” said Xu. “The risk of fire was our biggest challenge. It hung over my head like a sword.”

Improved Productivity and Efficiency

Even before the accidents were a factor, however, workers were exposed to harmful chemicals while assembling ammunition, requiring them to wear masks and gloves. Needless to say, it’s not the most inviting job, and one that’s likely better suited for automation.

Since introducing automation to the factories, the AI — equipped with “man-made ‘hands and eyes’ — have been almost 5 times more productive than human workers and can assemble various ammunition including artillery shells, guided bombs, and rockets with the kind of efficiency and perfection some human workers struggle with. They also don’t get tired, which is a plus for any industry looking to implement robotics. With productivity somewhat limited by the supply of raw materials, Xu said that the productivity boost would probably fall between 100 to 200 percent “at a minimum.” 

The Age of Automation: Welcome to the Next Great Revolution
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“The robots can free workers from risky, repetitive jobs in the bomb-making process,” Professor Huang Dexian, from Tsinghua University’s department of automation, told SCMP. “It will create new jobs such as control optimization, hardware maintenance and technical upgrades. It will give us a stronger, healthier, happier defense workforce.”

Despite the AI’s improvements to safety, it’s fair to have concerns about their inclusion in the ammunition making process. Though Xu noted that China’s was not in a situation where it was “gearing up for a war and filling its armouries at breakneck speed,” the country’s new production abilities could spur other countries to produce weaponry at a greater pace, or encourage them to speed up development on their own AI projects out of fear of being outmatched. Russia, for example, is reportedly building an AI-controlled missile, and has plans to add autonomy to its land and aerial vehicles. The U.S., meanwhile, wants to use AI to boost its intelligence gathering capabilities, and successfully tested an autonomous F-16 last April.

It’s true that automation can improve productivity and have positive impacts on society, but experts caution that we should also be wary about how far we take automation without proper plans. This is something Jon Wolfsthal, a non-resident fellow at Harvard University’s Managing the Atom project, suggested society be cautious of, saying, “the possible advantages … are endless, but so too are the risks.”


Endgame Napoleon svayambhu108 Sun, 01/07/2018 - 19:33 Permalink

Make me feel sorry for underemployed Chinese workers then, but make sure to have more babies as you hand the jobs to robots. It is so logical. 

And the safety issue is no different than in past eras, when the steel industry was so dangerous. It still is. You cannot let water get into a steel plant, not even in small quantities.

Are the Chinese avoiding human labor in dangerous steel plants, giving Americans the chance to rise again when we used to be the king of middle class steel jobs? 

In reply to by svayambhu108

Ghost who Walks Endgame Napoleon Sun, 01/07/2018 - 21:04 Permalink

I was last in a Chinese Steel plant in 2006 and I know that the plant was a newer investment. It was fairly automated and used high-quality German-made equipment. Since 2006 the Chinese have invested in newer technology and shut down older Steel Mills as part of an efficiency drive and upgrade to the environment. Even in 2006 the Bao-Steel plant was very good at controlling emissions of dust and gases. I could tell by the lack of dust on the plants in the gardens around the Steel mill.

The story about automation of Ammunition plants also says something about the CCCP intentions to improve safety conditions within their society. I have also visited a commercial explosives plant that was an interim design, that had reduced the number of employees exposed to the risk of explosion. It was well situated away from habitation (which is hard in China!) and had PLC's and video cameras controlling the process and monitoring how many people were present.

I have a friend that had visited many more plants than I had and he did see opportunities for improvement in the smaller provinces. While I was in China for 3 years I noticed a transformation in thinking about the environment, and quality and what should be done. This continues, and is being driven by the large numbers of young Chinese Engineers and Technologists trained locally and internationally. These young people give me optimism that China will take a positive path to the future.

Even in 2007 I found some plants making machinery in China already had advanced CNC equipment that was sourced from the US and Europe. The investment was about quality products for the international traded goods market.


Footnote on Chinese Safe Systems of work: An American Engineer was hired to improve Mining Safety in China. He was good at it and later became the 31st President of America. It appears that no Special Prosecutor was set up to look at his links with the Chinese Government, even though he and his wife could actually speak Chinese!

In reply to by Endgame Napoleon

Maghreb eforce Sun, 01/07/2018 - 19:36 Permalink

Yes but why the fuck are the clean up teams at Fukushima not using robots? They can only work there for maybe 30 minutes a day due to radiation levels. Perfect example of something that can be automated and save vaste amounts of money.  The message is implicit. Robotics is either a waste of money or an attempt to cut out Labor out of the economy.

Biggest problem for an arms factory is that the population know full well that millions of people dying in a war is no good for any economy. The same way the Chinese are working on automating their nuclear weapons arsenal. Automation will be used to instigate the same nightmare cull we saw in the early 20th century. Its probably some crypto like Basil Zaharoff pulling the strings.

Truth is automation and AI are a false economy. Take away the Trillions invested in the faggots that run Silicon Valley and the Masons that control the MIC and the whole system would collapse. People love innovation but the main driver has been infinite credit and military R and D. They are all either zionists or Brotherhood. Same way the Green movement was hijacked to bring about population control they now control the military industrial complex. The Mic is only lucrative because the tax payer pays the bill. Put security in the hands of Mercs or rebels and they are riding around in pick up trucks beating people into the ground with bats.

Humans want jobs, careers and products and will work with each other. Only the Allen Turing types that adore the strict machine that seek to undermine the general population. End the Fed and Globalist and automation will end as means to destroy jobs and human capital. Live the dream of pillow biter Steve Jobs and C3Po and prepare to die and be replaced by restless masses. Space exploration and nuclear clean up are useful and require robotics. Chinese made 7 generations of I phones and yet they want to replace them.

In reply to by eforce

Ghost who Walks Maghreb Sun, 01/07/2018 - 21:19 Permalink

"Biggest problem for an arms factory is that the population know full well that millions of people dying in a war is no good for any economy."

Actually the Chinese workers are concerned about going home at the end of the day and not becoming sick through exposure to chemicals. This is not a lot different to Western workers. I doubt that many of them are concerned about the economic impacts of war. Since Chinese workers are demographically a reducing pool, and have parents to look after, the focus of the Chinese family is to make sure that the working members can survive the workplace and continue to provide support to the aged members of the family.

In reply to by Maghreb

SunRise Sun, 01/07/2018 - 18:07 Permalink

" but experts caution that we should also be wary about how far we take automation without proper plans. "

Experts?  In whose eyes?  What are their credentials?

Proper plans?  In whose opinions - Who is making the judgement here?

Every time someone uses the word "we" without my permission,  I'm thinking Central Control using my labor to accomplish their values - slavery.

BlindMonkey SunRise Sun, 01/07/2018 - 18:33 Permalink

Automation IS the proper plan.  There is no better way to build a munitions line that can SCALE at the drop of a hat.  I saw this article a few days ago and was running the possibilities through my head.  There isn't a reason to stockpile vast quantities of arms if you can build a fast to scale factory to crank when you have to. 

In reply to by SunRise

Sudden Debt Sun, 01/07/2018 - 18:12 Permalink

2 more decades and the worker population will go extinct.

But that's just a small story.


what is more important is the trade sector that is now under attack and which will actually destroy many economies.

It's really like nobody wants to adress the real dangers in the media.

It's always the American fools who dream of the old metal industries comming back to America... fools...

But once the trade sectors die it will be the real end. Service sectors will no longer have clients to serve.

That will be the time that the era of fat poor people will end.


The Old Man Sudden Debt Sun, 01/07/2018 - 18:41 Permalink

On the contrary. The manufacturing base will return to America when the worker will receive proper housing and an appropriate ration of food for the work performed. Otherwise, your time line is correct. If, however, the population isn't reduced to meandering groups of hungry people who will eat wall paper paste to survive. I remember that happening somewhere in my studies. And I remember that they prevailed. Who says it can't happen again?

In reply to by Sudden Debt

Sudden Debt The Old Man Sun, 01/07/2018 - 19:15 Permalink

It  won't happen because there's no incentive to do so.

The west has changed into a service and trade economy and those who aren't in it are left out.

Sure, some food factories will always be there but that's not the manufacturing you're talking about.

If it ever returns it will be factories run by robots with maybe a handfull of humans running it.

In reply to by The Old Man

The Old Man Sudden Debt Sun, 01/07/2018 - 19:31 Permalink

Sudden. I didn't mean the general overall population. I meant the poor bastards left over to continue the war. But with respect to what you postulate, I generally agree. We have lost our overall manufacturing base. My thinking is 30 years down the road, maybe 20. And it will probably get a lot worse than what I surmise for then. The global and manufacturing population is now just trying to survive on available debt. The few who have made it are going to struggle into the future. Where does that lead? Think. Long term survival. Where is it? I can't see it. Tell me what you think.

In reply to by Sudden Debt

The Old Man Clock Crasher Sun, 01/07/2018 - 18:51 Permalink

That's true. Studies have shown that the heart is the backup to the conscious brain. I can site the studies. Software for that is so way off it's ridiculous, even with quantum computing. But someday.... it may not be fiction and a programmed machine to do just a few tasks will or could be a thing of a distant past. It may be real by then. That's when AI becomes an individual with rights and governing laws. Because the way things are going at the cusp of this brilliant flesh and blood civilization, we may inadvertently become extinct through our own faults. Not all. I still like Squirrel! 

In reply to by Clock Crasher

The Old Man Sun, 01/07/2018 - 18:20 Permalink

Will they make 9mm and .223/5.56 cheaper? Going to keep an eye out for the Youtube review vids. Chinese ammo reviews. That should be a treat. If DHS is stocking up, so am I! Sorry about those jobs lost in China. ("Those idiots.", to quote Arnold. People there don't have enough trouble.) I remember when something in NY and D.C. used to trickle down to us here in the flyover, but it would take a couple years. Wonder how long my pension check will take care of the rent? Then I wonder when Social Security will fail and I'll have to go squirrel hunting again? Squirrel pie, Squirrel soup, fried Squirrel, Squirrel jerky. Man, what great memories! But we didn't have a lot of Garlic back then. Just some salt and sometimes pepper. I wonder where all this is leading to? Lots of wonder. Wrong kind I'm certain!


ps.... I love Squirrel. Tastes like chicken. Feed them nuts during the Winter, JIC! But go long chips. Be careful. Choose wisely. Don't go all in!

Son of Captain Nemo Sun, 01/07/2018 - 18:27 Permalink

If the PRC is using robots to handle lethal and "illegal" ordnance like depleted uranium shells for their tanks, napalm and white phosphorus that the U.S. exposes not only it's victims to but it's own military... It shows at least that they care more about their own people than the U.S. does about it's "own"!...

two hoots Sun, 01/07/2018 - 18:28 Permalink

Humans have always looked for better, easier, more efficient ways to get stuff done.  Stone tools, spears, hemp ropes, the wheel, broom and shovel, cotton gin, chain saws, microwave.  So it continues, but now we can see where it leads?  Uh oh. 


coast1 Sun, 01/07/2018 - 18:58 Permalink

self checkout at the grocery store. I think many people wait in line longer at the self check out because they have found ways to cheat the automation..just sayin, use your imagination

RedBaron616 Sun, 01/07/2018 - 19:06 Permalink

As someone with first-hand knowledge, any manufacture of something as small as a bomblet is done in very protected surroundings. I know that one went off recently and no humans were even injured. The protection did what it was designed to do.

NoWayJose Sun, 01/07/2018 - 19:08 Permalink

We need to avoid a war of attrition with China.  They have more soldiers - and more ammo - than we do.  Their missile technology would also make life difficult for our ships and planes.  Our armed forces have migrated toward a ‘just shoot missiles’ mentality.  Fine for a while - until you run out of missiles!

Parrotile NoWayJose Mon, 01/08/2018 - 03:29 Permalink

Missiles, other projectiles, and all the other "consumables" that a modern, mechanised fighting force needs. Gone are the days when your army could "sustain" itself via pillaging farms en route - nowadays a modern army is completely dependent on the logistical supply chain. Break (or impede) that chain and things grind to a halt (quite literally).

This is why, despite all the bluster, NATO certainly realises a "conventional war" against Russia / China is a non-starter. "They" have the local supply capability, NATO does not, and reliance on easily-targeted supply convoys (land, sea and air) is a very risky operation, especially in today's era of very fast, very effective ASM (and highly man-portable SSM) weaponry.

This is also why there is a significant risk that NATO front-line commanders may feel they "need" to use "battlefield" nuclear munitions. Once that can of worms is opened, the obvious (and probably rapidly inevitable) "next step" is escalation of yield, up to (and including) strategic weapon yields (100kt and upwards).

Hardly reassuring.

In reply to by NoWayJose

SweetDoug Sun, 01/07/2018 - 19:09 Permalink




China will use all the cheap ammunition produced by the robots to arm the robotic drones to kill all the unemployed, homeless, drunken, horney, lonely, rebelling men in China, in about 8 years. Mao killed 80 million in the 60's. What's a few more?

What else are they gonna do with them all?

Good thing our leaders won't do that to us, eh?