On the afternoon of November 17th 2021, Head of Shanghai Electric Industrial Development Department Dr. SHEN Yuling delivered a lecture in person to the third-year students of SPEIT for its intercultural module, titled “Challenges and Opportunities in the Era of Intelligent Manufacturing”, where she shared her thoughts on intelligent manufacturing based on the latest developments in the industry.
The lecture was focused on four topics: the evolution of Shanghai Electric, a glimpse of intelligent manufacturing, the challenges confronting the manufacturing industry and the opportunities for the new energy industry.
Shanghai Electric is made up of 17 companies and has 3 major industrial clusters: lithium battery, intelligent manufacturing and smart city. After a brief introduction to the industrial revolution, Dr. SHEN talked about Manufacturing 4.0 that the world has entered with the support of industrial demand and technological innovation, featuring cyclical technology renewal and the manufacturing foundation reshaped. Fast growing labour cost has led to the demand for intelligent production, while a host of technology innovations such as the Internet of Things, cloud computing, 5G, big data and AI robot have driven industrial transformation, resulting in a number of new business models such as smart factories, intelligent logistics and C2B that have contributed to collaborative development throughout the entire industrial chain and therefore helped increase production efficiency again.
Intelligent manufacturing, in short, is the digital, web-based and intelligent version of the manufacturing industry, but people from different fields have different perceptions of it. The machinery field may be more focused on machining process, while the control field may put more emphasis on assembling process; and the process industry characterises intelligent manufacturing as “automatic, safe, self-adaptive, optimal and self-organized manufacturing”, while the data world defines it as an approach to creating knowledge with data and solving problems. Intelligent manufacturing is very much similar to a huge system that runs through every part of the full life circle, covering products, manufacturing and service. It is not only a boost to management thinking, management improvement and resource allocation efficiency, but a value innovation. And cyber-physical system sits at the very heart of intelligent manufacturing. Dr. SHEN also shared some of the case studies on typical companies in this regard, such as the drilling and riveting manufacturer Broetje-Automation in the aerospace industry as well as leading plants in steel, mechanical equipment manufacturing, medical facilities, automobile manufacturing and electronic manufacturing.
In the business world of intense competition, profit is the lifeline to a company, but the companies in the manufacturing industry are facing a string of challenges that cause higher cost, such as access to user information, loose management and decision-making, after-sales service organization, industrial resources integration, industrial organization and data mining and analysis. As China‘s dual carbon goal is set to impact almost every part of our life, it is important to think over how to tackle the challenges and seize potential opportunities in the new energy industry, and the power, industry, agriculture, transport, construction and every other industry have already been exploring their own paths to development.
In the Q&A part, Dr. SHEN said that China has quite a number of technology and equipment bottlenecks in addition to those in the chip industry that the students have been more familiar with, such as high-end sensors, high-performance dedicated servo motors and drivers, electro-hydraulic servo control systems, magnetic resonance radio frequency power amplifiers, new superconducting materials, graphene and other composite materials in the industry, and that it is of key economic and strategic significance to tackle these pressing challenges. She called on SPEIT students to build a solid knowledge base, reflect on what they would like to pursue in their life and its significance and work hard to embrace a promising future.