An employee oversees a smart robot processing furniture parts at a production facility in Ganzhou, Jiangxi province, in May. (ZHU HAIPENG/FOR CHINA DAILY)
Execs, experts underline high-techs' role in upgrading traditional industries
China's latest efforts in advancing the development of the industrial internet will inject new vitality into the convergence of advanced manufacturing and digital technologies, and buoy the country's sprawling industrial economy amid challenges and uncertainties, experts and company executives said.
The comments came as the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology aims to encourage about 3,000 enterprises to build 5G factories this year and build upgraded versions of "5G plus industrial internet" projects.
The industrial internet refers to the convergence of industrial systems with the power of advanced computing, analytics, sensing and new levels of connectivity. It is a new tech frontier in which all major economies are scrambling to establish a beachhead.
Zhang Yunming, vice-minister of industry and information technology at the MIIT, said the industrial internet is an important cornerstone of the fourth industrial revolution, a key foundation for the deep integration of the digital economy and the real economy, and a strategic infrastructure for the new industrialization.
Zhang called on local governments to increase collaboration with the MIIT and strengthen policy coordination and support, such as funding, technology, talent and data, to continuously optimize the policy environment for the innovation and development of the industrial internet.
Data from the ministry showed that the scale of China's industrial internet exceeds 1.2 trillion yuan ($164.5 billion) in value, and the country has nurtured 240 influential industrial internet platforms, with 28 being cross-industry and cross-domain platforms.
Yu Xiaohui, head of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, said the industrial internet has proved to be very effective in upgrading traditional industries.
"Now, the industrial internet has been used in more than 50 percent of the following eight industrial scenarios in large enterprises, including visual quality inspection, intelligent warehousing, quality traceability, intelligent production scheduling and lean production," Yu said, adding that it is also increasingly used in modeling and analysis scenarios, such as process optimization, equipment fault diagnosis and prediction.
Song Zhigang, deputy general manager of Chinese industrial internet company Inspur Yunzhou, said its industrial internet platform focuses on helping eight key industries, such as equipment, electronics, chemicals, mining, steel, energy, food and parks, to promote high-end and intelligent manufacturing transformation.
In a 5,400-square-meter workshop in Jinan, Shandong province, for instance, automated guided vehicles are busy with transferring production materials and rail-guided vehicles assist in converting production processes. The workshop requires only 39 human workers, thanks to the support of Inspur Yunzhou's industrial internet platform.
Song said the company has developed precise construction plans for the above factory to quickly locate its weaknesses and bottlenecks. By adding sensors such as sound, light and electricity, it helps dumb devices produce sound and achieve interconnections between people and devices. "We have helped the workshop reshape business processes with lean thinking and established a more scientific, standardized full process management system," Song added.
Xue Junjie, director of the production and manufacturing center at Xinneng Technology, which owns the workshop, said, "Through the technological empowerment of Inspur Yunzhou, our production efficiency has increased by 27 percent and the comprehensive operating costs of the workshop have been reduced by 17 percent."