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China's traditional manufacturing industries embrace digital transformation2024/7/10 9:43:21(Beijing Time) Lange Steel

In a pristine control room, six high-definition screens display real-time images of coal-mining operations, with a huge excavator machine crunching its way through a coal seam and loading it onto a truck.

Measuring 20 meters high, the excavator is controlled by "driver" Wang Yongsheng, who sits in a remote cab several kilometers from the coal face, in the city of Holingol, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

The introduction of remote mining technology has now transformed excavating-machine operators from "black-collar" to "white-collar" workers, allowing them to bid farewell to dusty work environments.

With advanced sensors and control systems, giant excavators can operate autonomously, performing complex tasks with precision. This minimizes human error and reduces the risks associated with manual operation.

"We've integrated a number of intelligent devices into traditional large excavators, enhancing interconnectivity among heavy machinery," said Yue Haifeng, a senior researcher from the Taiyuan Heavy Machinery Group Co Ltd the giant excavators' manufacturer.

Yue added that through continuous learning and performance improvement using data analysis and AI, these machines can adapt seamlessly to diverse operational scenarios and requirements.

At the Jinnan Steel Group in Shanxi province, a traditional steelmaker, artificial intelligence has been added into the production process at the coking plant. This integration has led to the realization of "one-click coking".

Wang Fenfen, who drives a coke pushing car, said that the temperature inside the previous cab often reached nearly 40 degrees Celsius, making it difficult to work there, even with two air conditioners.

With the introduction of intelligent coke-oven equipment, Wang now works from the centralized control center's operation room. With a touch of her finger, she can easily oversee the entire process, including coal loading, coke pushing, coke blocking, coke connecting and coke quenching.

This "one-click coking" not only liberates employees from complex production environments but also propels steel enterprises toward greener manufacturing through efficient, intelligent and safe production methods, said an executive with the company.

Coal mining, coking, metallurgy and electricity are traditional pillar industries in many provinces of China. Guided by the country's new development philosophy, numerous regions have steadfastly promoted the transformation and modernization of these traditional sectors.

Enterprises have been encouraged and supported to increase their investments in technological upgrades and new equipment, thereby revitalizing traditional industrial chains with cutting-edge technologies and innovative business models.

Shanxi, a major manufacturing province in China, has basically completed the digital transformation of its key traditional manufacturing industries.

For example, an eight-story excavator can now be operated remotely under extreme mining conditions. A boiler weighing over 500 tonnes is able to automatically convert various types of coal into gas. Intelligent equipment automates complex tasks such as controlling coke ovens, which previously required eight operators working simultaneously.

Smart manufacturing is not just about technological upgrades, but also about innovation in production modes. In the production workshops of Shanxi Tianbao Group Co Ltd, a traditional manufacturing enterprise, the real-time progress of each product's processing is displayed on the large screen of an intelligent manufacturing system.

"Reducing manpower, increasing efficiency and improving product quality are the most significant benefits brought by intelligent production," said Wang Shaohua, head of the enterprise's network information department.

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