In eastern China, at the end of a factory production line, washing machines undergo meticulous noise checks in a small white room. Hefei Midea Laundry Appliance Co., Ltd., the factory in Anhui Province, employs advanced equipment for noise detection. Using intelligent voiceprint collectors, the machines’ voiceprints are recorded and compared to determine if the operating noise meets the required standard.
Wang Kankan, the director of digitalization at Hefei Midea Laundry Appliance Co., Ltd., explains that the system utilizes intelligent algorithms to continuously learn and improve the accuracy of noise detection. If any abnormal noise is detected, the system raises an alarm. Through the implementation of intelligent inspection technologies like voiceprint detection and AI vision, the company has achieved a 36 percent reduction in product defects.
With smart devices integrated across all production processes, this factory has earned recognition as a “lighthouse factory” by the World Economic Forum. Midea Group, the Chinese home appliance giant, owns five such factories, including the one in Hefei. These “lighthouse factories” are regarded as global leaders in efficiency, intelligence, and green manufacturing.
The 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for China’s economic and social development highlights the importance of the real economy and the high-quality development of the manufacturing industry. The growing number of “lighthouse factories” in China signifies significant progress in the country’s manufacturing sector. China now boasts 50 “lighthouse factories,” the highest number among all nations, accounting for more than one-third of the global total.
Hefei Haier COSMO Intelligent Control Interconnected Factory, one of the newest “lighthouse factories,” has drastically reduced the time required for its standard operating procedure (SOP) from hours to mere seconds by employing a “virtual IE engineer.” This virtual engineer can make real-time adjustments, optimize personnel allocation, and select the most efficient solutions from thousands of possibilities, resulting in a 30 percent increase in efficiency.
Chinese companies are also prioritizing green transformation alongside their progress towards “dual carbon” goals. LCFC (Hefei) Electronics Technology Co., Ltd., the largest intelligent computing devices R&D and manufacturing base of Lenovo, has implemented advanced manufacturing technologies to reduce energy consumption during motherboard production. By replacing high-temperature solder paste with a low-temperature alternative, the peak welding temperature has decreased by approximately 70 degrees, leading to a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption and significant carbon emissions savings.
Inspired by the success of “lighthouse factories,” several provincial-level regional governments in China have introduced work plans to promote intelligent and green transformations in the manufacturing industry. Data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology shows that by the end of 2022, China had constructed over 2,100 high-level digital workshops and smart factories. These advancements have increased production efficiency in smart manufacturing demonstration factories by 34.8 percent and reduced carbon emissions by 21.2 percent.
The progress of “lighthouse factories” is setting a trend that is being embraced by provincial-level regional governments throughout China. These governments have released work plans aimed at promoting intelligent and green transformations in their respective manufacturing industries.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has provided data indicating significant achievements in this regard. By the end of 2022, China had successfully established over 2,100 high-level digital workshops and smart factories. These advancements have yielded impressive results, with production efficiency in smart manufacturing demonstration factories increasing by 34.8 percent and carbon emissions being reduced by 21.2 percent.
The push for intelligent manufacturing goes hand in hand with China’s commitment to achieving its “dual carbon” goals, which aim to reduce both carbon emissions and energy consumption. By implementing cutting-edge technologies and innovative approaches, Chinese companies are making substantial progress in creating more sustainable and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.
The widespread adoption of intelligent inspection technologies, such as voiceprint detection and AI vision, has significantly improved the quality control of products. The ability to identify and address potential defects and issues during the production process has led to a remarkable 36 percent reduction in product defects for Hefei Midea Laundry Appliance Co., Ltd.
Similarly, the use of virtual engineering and real-time adjustments in “lighthouse factories” has greatly enhanced production efficiency. By leveraging intelligent algorithms and advanced data analysis, these factories can optimize operations, allocate resources effectively, and achieve remarkable increases in productivity.
The emphasis on green transformation is also evident in the efforts to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. By adopting low-temperature welding technologies and exploring alternative materials, companies like LCFC (Hefei) Electronics Technology Co., Ltd. have successfully reduced energy consumption and made significant contributions to environmental preservation.
As China continues to prioritize the development of its manufacturing industry, the proliferation of “lighthouse factories” serves as a testament to the country’s commitment to high-quality manufacturing and sustainable growth. These factories embody the highest standards of global intelligent manufacturing, showcasing China’s technological prowess and dedication to innovation.
With ongoing support from government initiatives and a strong emphasis on intelligent and green transformations, China’s manufacturing industry is poised for continued success. The collective efforts of “lighthouse factories,” regional governments, and industry leaders are driving the sector towards a more intelligent, efficient, and environmentally conscious future.