China’s manufacturing goes digital, green for high-quality growth
HEFEI: In the blink of an eye, a laptop is churned out from the busy production lines at LCFC (Hefei) Electronics Technology Co, Ltd., the largest PC R&D and manufacturing base of Chinese tech giant Lenovo.
The once-complicated process of computer manufacturing, which includes product ordering, design, production and testing, can now be accomplished by tapping on a few keyboards in the factory located in east China’s Anhui Province.
At the ongoing fourth World Manufacturing Convention in Hefei, the provincial capital of Anhui, LCFC showcased not only its latest products, but also a world-class industrial internet system that enables it to produce nearly 39 million units of all types of computers and servers in the fiscal year of 2020.
The convention, which saw the participation of over 400 enterprises, kicked off Friday under the theme of “innovation-driven, digitally empowered: global manufacturing industry aligned for high-quality growth”.
The four-day event is set to promote high-quality manufacturing and boost cooperation between China, a global manufacturing powerhouse, and the rest of the world.
In manufacturing, production scheduling is a complex step that must take into consideration various factors, such as personnel, equipment and materials.
To produce a laptop that contains thousands of components, workers have to process over 300 raw materials, a job that requires a high degree of precision. The complexity of the work is increased exponentially when the look and configuration of laptops are customized.
LCFC has invested heavily in the digital transformation of the supply chain over the past few years. Among other moves, it has built an efficient supply chain platform for about 70 laptop-parts makers located in the vicinity. Most computer parts can be delivered to the company within four hours.
On the cloud-based platform, workers at LCFC can access the real-time status of orders as well as the manufacturing progress of suppliers, which enables them to better coordinate supply and production.
“When our company goes digital, we have to make our suppliers go digital too. Otherwise, we can’t achieve the desired level of efficiency as a whole,” said Bai Peng, CEO of LCFC.
The company’s intelligent production scheduling system, which relies on artificial intelligence algorithms and big-data technology, has reduced the production scheduling time to one and a half minutes from six hours when done manually.
For every eight new laptops sold worldwide, one comes from LCFC. Products made in LCFC have been sold to 126 countries and regions around the world, Bai said.
Similarly, home appliances producer Changhong Meiling Co, Ltd. is also embracing industrial digitalization to promote efficiency.
A suite of sensors connected by 5G network have been installed in its factory to monitor the performance and conditions of the equipment. Variables such as order, material flow and qualification rate are shown on a big screen to help managers with decision making.
“Information collected by the sensors has optimized our operation and increased production efficiency by 25 per cent,” said Hu Mingyong, chief industrial internet expert of Changhong Meiling.
Nationwide, digitalization has increased the revenues of 85 per cent of Chinese enterprises by at least 5 per cent, according to a white paper released in late October on China’s industrial internet.
This year’s manufacturing convention, covering an area of more than 43,000 square meters, features various industrial seminars, business matchmaking events, exhibitions of new-energy vehicles (NEVs), intelligent manufacturing, imported products, among others.
A parallel forum on NEVs was also held here on Saturday to advance international exchanges and cooperation amid China’s efforts to cut carbon emissions.
Experts from industry associations and representatives from automakers such as Volkswagen and Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Corp., Ltd. (JAC) discussed a variety of topics, including opportunities for NEVs against the background of China’s energy transformation, cutting-edge technologies for NEVs and smart autos, as well as international cooperation in the field.
China’s NEV market has maintained strong growth, with NEV sales surging 134.9 per cent year on year in October to about 383,000 units. NEV ownership in the country reached 5.8 million units by late May of 2021, accounting for about half of the global total, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
The rising popularity of “green” vehicles has not only galvanised traditional auto companies, but also driven emerging players such as Baidu, Huawei and Xiaomi to pile into the industry.
“As a Chinese automaker, we have been focusing on the research and development of NEVs since 2007. We have sold more than 200,000 NEVs globally so far,” said Wang Guangyu, a senior manager at JAC.
Apart from automakers, many other Chinese manufacturers are also going green in the production process to contribute to the country’s efforts on carbon reduction.
For Anhui Conch Group Co., Ltd., a leading company of China’s cement industry, carbon capture has been an effective way to turn waste into wealth. The company has invested 62 million yuan (about 9.7 million U.S. dollars) in carbon capture equipment at its Baimashan plant near the Yangtze River, in the city of Wuhu, Anhui Province.
The pilot carbon capture and storage project can separate and purify 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted in cement production every year, which Conch will then sell as food and industrial-grade CO2.
At the same time, the company is taking a series of other measures to lower emissions at source, such as upgrading the plants, using more clean energy, and turning waste heat from cement kilns into electricity.
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