Manufacturing News

Experts urge bigger role for digital tech in industry

Insiders call for more efforts to ramp up digitalization to better serve economy

Digital technologies should play a bigger role in promoting industrial upgrade and agile manufacturing to inject fresh impetus in the deeper integration of the digital and real economies, experts and industry insiders said.

The comments came as the 2022 Government Work Report said China will continue to advance digitalization of industries, and accelerate development of the industrial internet this year.

Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo Group Ltd, said the digital economy and real economy promote the development of each other. Only when the digital economy is rooted in the foundation of the real economy can it create greater value and truly flourish.

Yang, who is also a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress, said the digitalization of industries needs to rely on a robust digital ecosystem. Governments and enterprises can work together to create such an ecosystem around data flow and interaction.

"Leading industrial enterprises should pioneer the application of digital technologies in industrial scenarios, and then promote successful applications to other enterprises or industries," Yang added.

Xiao Gang, former chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, and a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said finance should better leverage digital technologies to serve the industrial and supply chains.

When all elements of the industrial chains are digitalized, there will be a large amount of data, which will enable financial companies to serve not just one enterprise but offer a package service plan for the entire industrial chain. Such efforts will also help small and medium-sized enterprises better access funding, Xiao said.

Lian Yuming, president of the Beijing-based International Institute for Urban Development, said the industrialization of digital technologies and the digitalization of traditional sectors are two important pillars for the integrated development of the digital economy and the real economy.

Lian, who is also a member of the 13th National Committee of the CPPCC, said the core lies in a deeper integration of both technologies and applications, driven by data, computing algorithms and industrial solution scenarios.

Li Yizhong, former minister of industry and information technology, said internet companies and industrial companies should work more closely. The former should learn more about the real economy, especially manufacturing, and the latter should become familiar with information technologies as soon as possible.

Li said more efficient use of digital technologies in manufacturing can make production flexible. Alibaba Xunxi (Hangzhou) Digital Technology Co Ltd, a unit of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd that focuses on smart manufacturing, for instance, is using the company's cloud computing infrastructure and the internet of things technologies to enable agile manufacturing and on-demand production.

An Xiaopeng, chief strategy officer of Alibaba Xunxi (Hangzhou) Digital Technology Co Ltd, said clothing orders have become increasingly smaller, dropping from tens of thousands of pieces of clothing in the past to 3,000 pieces per order. And some online orders are now as small as 100 pieces of clothing per order. But manufacturing could not keep up with the change and this leads to heavy inventories.

To solve the problem, Xunxi helps digitalize the entire clothing industrial chain from procurement, manufacturing and retail to enable on-demand and small-batch production. Xunxi also connects retailers on Alibaba's Tmall e-commerce platform directly with clothing plants to help quickly respond to consumers' changing demands, deliver orders quickly and maintain low inventories.

"Xunxi combines the advantages of consumer internet and industrial internet. It showcases China's technological prowess in consumer-oriented internet and the nation's unique position as a manufacturing powerhouse," An added.

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