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How China’s manufacturing has changed from big to strong: intelligent development is the key

Time: 31 Mar 2023

Author: admin

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After the international financial crisis, many countries have a new understanding of the important role of manufacturing in promoting trade growth, improving the level of R&D and innovation and promoting employment, and have put forward national strategies for manufacturing, such as the “National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing” of the United States, Germany’s Industry 4.0 Program and Japan’s “Manufacturing White Paper”. Manufacturing is once again becoming an important manifestation of national competitiveness. In the face of the strategic measures of various countries and the major adjustment of the global manufacturing competition pattern, China has also issued the “Made in China 2025”, which clearly puts forward intelligent manufacturing as the main direction of deep integration of industrialization and industrialization. So, how to recognize intelligent manufacturing? We can start from the dimensions of technological innovation, organizational innovation and model innovation.

First, intelligent manufacturing is not born, but a new form of advanced manufacturing development. As a new form of advanced manufacturing, intelligent manufacturing has received extensive response from many professionals in the manufacturing industry as soon as it was proposed, and is becoming a new direction and trend in the transformation and upgrading of China’s manufacturing industry. However, it should also be noted that intelligent manufacturing is not just a concept born out of thin air, but a manufacturing industry gradually formed after a long period of evolution and integration according to its internal development logic. It can be said that intelligent manufacturing is an advanced manufacturing system that integrates technological innovation, model innovation and organizational innovation with the change of market demand, and is the integration of multiple advanced manufacturing systems and modes such as integrated manufacturing, lean production, agile manufacturing, virtual manufacturing, and networked manufacturing.

How China’s manufacturing has changed from big to strong: intelligent development is the key

Second, market demand is the fundamental driving force for the development of advanced manufacturing. Since the middle of last century, with the increasing prosperity of the market economy, consumers’ demand for goods has become increasingly diversified and personalized, requiring modern manufacturing industry to have the shortest delivery time, the best product quality, the lowest product price and the best service, promoting the development of industrial manufacturing from the initial scale strategy and cost-oriented strategy to the later quality strategy and service strategy. With the improvement of consumers’ environmental awareness, environmental protection strategy has become one of the important guides of industrial manufacturing. At present, a single manufacturing development strategy has given way to a comprehensive manufacturing service strategy, and the advanced manufacturing system must be able to meet the market and social needs in several aspects such as time, quality, cost, service and environment, so as to obtain maximum economic and social benefits, which puts forward higher requirements for the manufacturing system and provides greater development momentum.

Third, technological progress is a key factor in the development of advanced manufacturing. From the perspective of the history of manufacturing development, the development process of advanced manufacturing is also the process of manufacturing technology progress. Watt’s invention of the steam engine ushered in the most sub-industrial revolution and a new chapter in industrial manufacturing. After the middle of the last century, the development of science and technology has also entered a rapidly changing era, electronic information technology and automation technology have developed rapidly, the information technology revolution represented by the Internet has injected new vitality into the manufacturing industry, and technical systems such as computer integrated manufacturing, agile manufacturing, and virtual manufacturing came into being. From the emergence of CNC machine tools in the 50s of the last century, to the computer-aided design, computer numerical control, computer-aided manufacturing that began to appear in the 60s, to the computer-integrated manufacturing system in the 70s, the manufacturing industry has developed rapidly along a path of deepening informatization, and has developed to the stage of virtual manufacturing with the help of computer simulation technology and intelligent manufacturing with the help of artificial intelligence.

Fourth, organizational innovation is the soul of advanced manufacturing development. Ford of the United States invented the assembly line, subverted the traditional European workshop production organization method, and greatly increased productivity, which is a typical manufacturing organization innovation. In the industrial society stage from the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, the manufacturing system and mode were rigid mass production, and assembly lines and Taylor work systems were widely used. In the second half of the 20th century, the diversification of market demand forced industrial manufacturing to evolve in the direction of multi-variety, small batch, and shortened production cycle, and the rigid manufacturing mode was gradually replaced by the flexible manufacturing model, and the corresponding production organization also evolved from pyramidal bureaucratic management to flat, matrix management.

For example, the product development and production of Toyota’s lean production method in Japan take sales as the starting point, organize multi-variety and small batch production according to the order contract, and organize workers into operation groups in production organization, not only to complete production tasks, but also to participate in enterprise management. In order to quickly meet the requirements of consumers for high-quality and high-performance products and services, the agile manufacturing implemented by some large enterprises in the United States adopts a rapid response organizational mode, uses the enterprise network to realize communication and parallel work between internal working groups of the enterprise, uses the Internet to realize remote design and manufacturing, and establishes the optimal dynamic alliance in time. In the stage of networked manufacturing, some enterprises have developed into platform enterprises, connecting with a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises through R&D platforms, marketing platforms and information platforms. Flattening has a new connotation, centralized vertical management has been replaced by decentralized cooperation, and producers and consumers are more directly connected.

Fifth, model innovation is a concentrated embodiment of the evolution of advanced manufacturing. Innovation in manufacturing models has evolved around responsiveness to consumer needs. With the substantial improvement of production efficiency and the great enrichment of products, the market competition of industrial manufactured products is becoming more and more fierce, while consumers’ voice is increasing, and how to better and faster meet the personalized needs of consumers has become an important factor in manufacturing model innovation. The parallel engineering adopted by Boeing, General Electric and other enterprises in the United States emphasizes the collaborative design and development of products and their related processes in parallel to shorten the product development cycle. The modular production method implemented by Volkswagen combines the cost advantages of large-scale manufacturing with the customization to meet the individual needs of consumers to achieve large-scale customized production, which greatly accelerates the response time to demand while meeting the more personalized needs of consumers.

In order to better serve consumers, the manufacturing industry has seen a new trend of transformation from pure manufacturing to service-oriented manufacturing. In the service-oriented manufacturing model, manufacturing enterprises provide customers with comprehensive solutions in the form of products + services. For example, Rolls-Royce in the UK provides customers with not only traditional maintenance services, but also integrated value-added services to ensure that the aircraft in service with airlines are in good condition.

In short, advanced manufacturing industry is a general term for customer-centric, constantly responding to changes in market demand, integrating technological innovation, organizational mode innovation and model innovation to achieve high-quality, efficient, low-consumption, clean and flexible production, so as to achieve ideal economic and social benefits. Intelligent manufacturing is the development of advanced manufacturing to the current stage, integrating a new generation of information technology such as the Internet of Things, cloud computing, and big data, shifting from centralized control to decentralized enhanced control, and realizing the latest form of intelligent and social production through the integration of the Internet of Things and the Internet, as well as three integrations (vertical integration, end-to-end integration, horizontal integration). Understanding intelligent manufacturing from the three dimensions of technological innovation, organizational innovation and model innovation is conducive to better grasping the current position of China’s manufacturing industry and the direction of future efforts, and avoiding the tendency of blindly seeking innovation and rushing to achieve results.