US-based conglomerate Honeywell has launched its Smart Manufacturing Research Center in Shanghai, in a bid to further tap into the Chinese market by diversifying its investment and development in the country.
The research center, announced during the ongoing Honeywell Process Solutions' biannual China Technology Symposium in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, plans to issue new reports each year on smart manufacturing, use cases, applications and technology trends.
The center will also serve in an advisory role for Chinese businesses and the Chinese government, and facilitate collaborations with universities, research institutes, and nonprofit organizations to facilitate the country's high-quality development, the company said.
The first report of the research center was simultaneously launched. In response to China's "Smart Plus" initiative, the report shared perspectives about how the industrial internet of things can be leveraged to improve operation performance in the process industry.
The process industry is defined as an industry concerned with the processing of bulk resources into other products. It mainly includes basic raw material industries such as petroleum, natural gas, chemicals, metals, mining, pharmaceuticals and building materials. It is the pillar industry of the national economy and an important supporting force for China's sustained economic growth.
"The report aims to address topics like what can be considered a 'Smart Plant' in China, key success factors for smart manufacturing, and the latest technology trends, including global success stories about Honeywell's advanced software solutions," the company said in a statement.
According to the report, as early as in the 1970s, China's process industry had achieved automatic control. The next challenge of the industry will be how to move toward an intelligent era through digitization and connectivity.
"The key is to transform production and operation data to insights and knowledge of business, and improve the management level of key assets and process safety and efficiency through advanced analysis and prediction.
"The future trend of smart plants will be using technologies such as cloud computing, virtualization, digital tools, data interconnection, virtual reality and advanced analysis to ensure process safety, improve operation efficiency and decision-making effectiveness," the report said.
"China's process industry is catching up to the rest of the world in terms of sustainable, high-quality development, yet many companies don't know how to well structure the strategy to execute it," said Chen Yan, vice-president and general manager of Honeywell Process Solutions, China.
"We are honored to offer comprehensive connected solutions for Chinese companies in the process industry, supporting the long-term development of our Chinese partners," he said.
A report from Cisinfo, a Beijing-based industrial cloud platform provider, noted that in recent years, China's process industry has been in urgent need of new kinetic energy for industrial transformation and development. The existing manufacturing model has problems to be solved immediately, mainly including the integration and efficient regulation of capital flow, material flow, energy flow and information flow.
"This is where smart plants are needed. The smart manufacturing of the process industry can not only increase enterprise benefit and social benefit, but also improve the resource allocation and operation efficiency of the whole industry, making China ahead of other countries in the sector and enhancing the country's overall competitiveness," said the report.
Zhou Lubo, chief technology officer of a business section at Honeywell, noted that the goal of smart plants is to enhance efficiency and realize connectivity through efficient utilization of data. "China is expected to realize impressive progress of intelligentization of its manufacturing plants in five to 10 years."
Lin Zhong, director of digital technology from Wison Engineering, said that "a smart plant is similar to a smartphone, with countless numbers of enterprises, like mobile apps, offering services".
"In the future, our Smart Manufacturing Research Center will come up with more research results to offer suggestions to China's manufacturing enterprises for their high-quality and sustainable development," Chen from Honeywell said.
Apart from Honeywell, other international conglomerates are also attracted by China's growing market and looking to diversify their development in China.
During the 2018 World Artificial Intelligence Conference, Amazon Web Services announced plans to launch an AI research institute in Shanghai, aiming at tapping into AI and robot learning locally in China.
Meanwhile, Microsoft also launched its Asian research institute in Shanghai, with a goal of transforming the results of AI research into application, promoting the digital transformation and talent upgrade in China, and helping Shanghai become an AI highland of China, or even the world.