China's economy can take advantage of a new growth model by combining its manufacturing industries with internet technologies, experts and officials said at a recent expo.
The second China (Guangdong) International Internet Plus Exposition held in Foshan, Guangdong province, last week attracted 613 domestic and foreign enterprises to showcase their latest achievements in using information technology to both upgrade their businesses and improve people's lives.
To ensure that it maintains a competitive industrial edge, China last year unveiled its Made in China 2025 plan, which is an initiative to comprehensively upgrade the country's industry.
Premier Li Keqiang has stressed that "Internet Plus" is central to the plan, which aims to transform China's manufacturing mode by applying information technologies such as big data and cloud computing at every link along the industry chain.
"China is a manufacturing power and has robust Internet growth. Combining the manufacturing and internet sectors will speed up the rate at which we can transform the mode of economic development," Zhou Ji, president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said at the opening ceremony of the four-day expo on Oct 20.
He added: "Integrated with the internet, the advanced manufacturing and modern service industries will become new engines for China's economic growth."
China now has about 721 million internet users, more than any other country, according to a report released by the United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development on Sept 15.
Guangdong has more websites and mobile internet users than any other province or autonomous region, according to Zhu Xiaodan, governor of the province.
It is also an important manufacturing base and international trade hub, boasting the largest GDP of any province in the country.
"Guangdong will take the opportunity afforded by the Internet Plus expo to step up efforts to integrate the internet with industries and to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship," Zhu said at the opening ceremony.
"Guangdong aims to become an important base for the internet economy, a model for applying IT to public services and a center for innovation and entrepreneurship in the internet sector in China," he added.
Wision Furniture is a Guangdong-based manufacturer that has added innovations to both its production methods and sales strategies, enabling it to adapt to the trend of customized consumption.
Offering a range of services, from home measuring to furniture design, manufacture and delivery, the company has tapped into a market with rich potential and is currently seeing annual growth of around 20 percent. This is in stark contrast to most businesses in the traditional furniture industry, many of which have registered zero growth over the past few years, according to Li Lianzhu, president of Wision.
The internet has made it possible for the company to receive numerous orders in a single day from customers across the country. While this has helped drive the company's growth, it has also provided a stern challenge in terms of the need to produce a high volume of customized furniture using traditional methods.
"That's why intelligent manufacturing is necessary, which will make it possible to produce customized products on a large scale and at affordable prices for customers and acceptable costs for us," Li said at a forum during the expo.
He Dongdong, vice-president and chief process and IT officer of Sany Group, proposed a potential big-picture solution to the challenge of producing customized products on a large scale.
"In the future, the whole industry chain will be one big 'factory', with every single factory connected in a network and making various parts of a product," He said.
"In this way we can make full use of the manufacturing capacity all over the country, improving productivity and reducing costs," he added.
He stressed that in order to realize this vision, the manufacturing sector will need to devise a universal language that can rapidly communicate customers' requirements to factories.
He added that a network developed around big data and cloud computing should be established to connect factories and ensure efficient communication.
Chinese internet companies are also helping manufacturers to get closer to consumers and stay abreast of the latest market trends.
For example, e-commerce giant JD.com has 180 million active users and the big data about their consumption needs is valuable to the website's suppliers.
"What we do is to create scenarios based on our big data to show our manufacturing partners what is currently selling best," said Leslie Liu, vice-president of JD Smart, a subsidiary of JD.com.
Visitors experience the smart home exhibits during the Foshan Internet Plus expo.Zhou Chun / For China Daily
(China Daily 10/25/2016 page10)
(From China Daily, 2016-10-25)