China’s industrial heartland relies on artificial intelligence


Visitors look at flexible displays during the Universal Display Expo 2019 in Shanghai. LYU LIANG / DAILY FOR CHINA

SHENZHEN - For a company based in southern China, their walkie talkies must pass repeated drop tests and push button trials to meet factory inspection standards.

At Hytera, a leading walkie-talkie manufacturer in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, quality inspectors performed most of the testing manually.

“Workers who press tens of thousands of on / off buttons every day are more prone to fatigue and boredom. Test accuracy was also difficult to guarantee, ”said Sun Meng, the company’s senior vice president.

In 2011, the company began modernizing its production line and introducing robots for intelligent manufacturing. The sorting, labeling and coding of raw materials, the joining of parts, the handling of products and quality checks are now carried out by robots.

With more than 20 intelligent production lines, the company’s production automation rate has exceeded 70 percent, Sun said.

“Yield and production have improved a lot,” he said, adding that the number of factory workers fell from more than 3,000 to about 1,000.

Hytera’s transformation represents a smart transition in the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong with its cluster of manufacturers. The automation and digitization of the manufacturing industry, in which around 3 million industrial companies are based, has developed into a virtual do-or-die strategy for high-quality development.

Bi Yalei, general secretary of the Shenzhen Robotics Association, said with improved domestic industrial robotics technology and lower prices, more and more companies have started using low-cost, China-made robots for automation transformation, especially small and medium-sized manufacturers who are more cost sensitive.

Figures show that the production of industrial robots in Shenzhen grew by 75.5 percent in the first seven months compared to the previous year, while the growth rate in the highly industrialized city of Dongguan in the first half of the year was 123.3 percent compared to the previous year. A report released by the association said that the production value of industrial robots in Shenzhen reached 90.4 billion yuan ($ 14 billion) in 2020, 9.98 percent more than in 2019. Growth was 7.65 percentage points higher than the previous year .

According to the Provincial Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, more than 15,000 industrial companies are engaged in digital transformation using industrial Internet technology, and over 500,000 companies have adopted cloud computing technology.

With the introduction of Artificial Intelligence, TCL China Star Optoelectronics Technology Co, a semiconductor display manufacturer, has also replaced quality inspectors with robots, halved the workforce in the industry, and increased efficiency almost ten times.

The company tries to collect and analyze data from the entire production process, including temperature and humidity, to further improve yield rates.

“We need to maximize production efficiency through high-level intelligence in order to further improve the competitiveness of Made-in-China products,” said Ding Liu’an, employee of the company’s digitization office.



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