Move part of country's broader effort to develop intelligent manufacturing
China will unveil a three-year plan to boost the development of the industrial internet, a frontier where countries around the world are scrambling to establish a beachhead, top officials said on Friday.
The move is part of China's broader push to boost smart manufacturing, as the long-predicted convergence of the IT and industrial worlds finally picks up momentum.
Vice-Premier Ma Kai said the industrial internet has become a new battlefield for global manufacturing and technology companies. The sector is still in its infancy, but it is gaining importance as it provides an opportunity to further grow China's manufacturing prowess.
The industrial internet refers to a network of combined, advanced machines with internet-connected sensors, which will collect and analyze data from consumers, suppliers and factories. It is designed to allow companies to customize products at speed and scale while boosting productivity and reducing costs.
According to Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, the ministry is drafting a three-year action plan, that will encourage companies to build and use industrial internet platforms.
"We also attach high importance to industrial security and will motivate enterprises to build a powerful network to support intelligent production," Miao said.
In December, the State Council, China's cabinet, unveiled a guideline that aims to build three to five industrial internet platforms, which will reach international standards by 2025 and lead the world in key areas by 2035.
Specifically, the country wants to build about 10 cross-industry platforms by 2020 to accelerate digital transformation.
Chen Lucheng, vice-president of the home appliances business at Haier Group, said the company's industrial internet platform now boasts 320 million users and 3.9 million registered enterprises.
"In addition to making our own factories more flexible, the industrial internet platform, dubbed COSMOPlat, is empowering companies in electronics, textiles, equipment, construction and other sectors by bringing them closer to consumers and suppliers," Chen said.
The market size of China's industrial internet sector will hit 10.8 trillion yuan ($1.64 trillion) in 2025, according to Qianzhan Industry Research Institute, which did not disclose the figure for 2017.
But as companies scramble to jump onto the bandwagon, it is important to ensure that enough measures are enacted to guard against cyber attacks, Qianzhan added in a report.
Tan Xiaosheng, chief security officer of 360 Technology Inc, China's largest internet security company, agreed, saying compared with consumer internet applications such as e-commerce, the industrial internet is far more complex and more vulnerable to sophisticated online attacks.