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Industrial internet to boost smart manufacturing

By Cheng Yu and Ma Si | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-01 07:35

China's push to develop industrial internet will inject a fresh impetus to the development of smart manufacturing as well as the integration of the industry and the internet, analysts said on Wednesday.

"Accelerated steps on industrial internet are of significance to China's advanced manufacturing amid fierce competition from abroad. It will help promote deeper integration of the country's real economy with internet, big data and artificial intelligence," said Yang Chunli, a researcher at the China Center for Information Industry Development, a Beijing-based think tank.

The State Council, China's cabinet, earlier this week unveiled a guideline that aims to build three to five industrial internet platforms, which will reach international standards by 2025 and lead the world in key areas by 2035.

Specifically, the country will build about 10 cross-industry platforms by 2020 to accelerate digital transformations at enterprises. The industrial internet refers to a network of combined, advanced machines with internet-connected sensors and big-data analytics. It is designed to boost the productivity, efficiency and reliability of industrial production.

Qianzhan Industry Research Institute forecast that the market size of China's industrial internet sector will hit 10.8 trillion yuan ($1.64 trillion) in 2025, without disclosing the figure for this year.

"To compete with the world in internet and manufacturing, China must foster national platforms, which will act as main pillars of future industrial transformation. Key industries such as automobiles, digital, energy and aerospace are some of the potential areas to establish such national platforms," Yang said.

According to a recent report from Alliance of Industrial Internet, China's industrial internet sector is still in its infancy, as a group of Chinese companies, including Sany Heavy Industry Co Ltd, started tapping into the sector several years ago.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also selected 206 smart manufacturing pilot projects, of which 28 are related to industrial internet innovation.

Now, around 50 percent of the world's industrial platforms are provided by US enterprises and China still faces a gap with developed countries in terms of function, degree of commercialization and integrity of the whole ecosystem, according to the report.

Yang also noted that a group of companies including Rootcloud and Haier Group did quite well in industrial internet but most of them focus on certain vertical areas with limited users and resources, which still lag behind world-leading platforms such as General Electric's Predix and Siemens' MindSphere.

"However, most industrial platforms across the world are in the early stage of commercialization and are still on the way of exploring the market. In other words, China stands almost at the same starting line with developed countries," Yang said.

"Even though some enterprises started to map out industrial internet long before, they just launched their products and the service system still needs to be improved," she added.

Contact the writers at masi@chinadaily.com.cn

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