Liaoning scraps its rusty past to shine as hub of innovation

High-tech upgrade of traditional industries spurs province's further growth

By Zhang Xiaomin,Wu Yong and Xu Ziming in Shenyang | China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-10 07:17
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Robots manufacture a passenger vehicle at a factory of Siasun Robot and Automation Co in Shenyang, Liaoning province, last month. LI XULUN/XINHUA

In a smart factory of major steelmaker Ansteel in Anshan, Liaoning province, not a single worker can be seen on the entire production line.

Staff are predominantly engaged in data monitoring, enabling the workshop to function seamlessly, even in the dark.

"Effectively promoting the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries is a challenging task that must be tackled to drive the comprehensive revitalization of Liaoning in the new era," said Hao Peng, Party secretary of Liaoning.

Vigorous efforts being made to propel traditional industries toward high-end development will establish a solid foundation for the construction of a modern industrial system characterized by integrity, advancement and safety, he said.

Liaoning, one of China's first major industrial bases, boasts a wide range of industries and sectors such as equipment manufacturing, petrochemicals, and mining, and played a significant national role in the country's development.

However, many traditional manufacturing enterprises in Liaoning now urgently need to revitalize their core operations due to a lack of competitiveness and limited industrial structures.

"Focusing on intelligent initiatives, we support enterprises in digital empowerment, and acceleration of the innovative development of the industrial internet," said Hao, adding that transforming and upgrading enterprises will help traditional industries grow stronger and larger, and achieve high-quality growth.

Liaoning is developing new productive forces tailored to local conditions and focusing on building a modern industrial system featuring the province's distinct advantages, Hao said.

With government support and assistance, Ansteel, or the Anshan Iron and Steel Group Co, has successfully undertaken its transformation. The steelmaker has completed intelligent upgrades on 55 production lines, with CNC (computer numerical control) application to key processes exceeding 80 percent.

Notably, projects such as intelligent mining, dark — or fully automated — factories, and 5G plus smart steelmaking have become bench marks for the intelligent transformation and upgrading of numerous traditional industries in Liaoning.

Liaoning Provincial Department of Industry and Information Technology data indicates that the pace of digitalization in traditional industries in Liaoning is accelerating. Nearly 90 provincial-level industrial internet platforms have been established in the province, with 222 digitalized workshops and 115 intelligent factories established.

An inspection robot at a workshop of the Ansteel Group in Anshan, Liaoning.

Emerging industries

Liaoning boasts unique geographical advantages, a solid industrial foundation and abundant innovation resources, providing great potential for the northeastern province to develop new quality productive forces, said Lu Yangxu, an analyst at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development.

"The cultivation of new productive forces should be tailored to local conditions and leverage comparative advantages effectively," he said.

Lu suggested the province expand and strengthen emerging industries, enhance the leading role of enterprises in innovation, and stimulate innovation across various enterprises.

Liaoning is currently focusing on the development of 10 strategic emerging industry clusters. Among them are robotics and artificial intelligence, software and information technology services, integrated circuit equipment, biopharmaceuticals and advanced medical equipment, and new energy, according to Provincial Development and Reform Commission sources.

Shenyang's robotics and intelligent manufacturing industry is one of 45 state-level advanced manufacturing clusters.

Siasun Robot and Automation Co, a leader in robotics, is exploring "robot plus AI" applications.

Established in 2000, the Shenyang-based company focuses on robot technology and intelligent manufacturing solutions. It exports products to over 40 countries, and provides services to over 4,000 international companies.

At the company's exhibition hall, a diverse collection of cutting-edge intelligent products is on show. Among them is an AI robot that can engage in real-time conversations with people and attempt to read their emotions.

Zhang Jin, president of Siasun, said the company is gradually developing robots as core support for intelligent manufacturing. Advanced productive forces will also be developed to upgrade traditional industries, foster and strengthen emerging fields, and lay out future industries.

In the first quarter of this year, Liaoning saw a rapid growth in the production of high-tech products. Production of industrial robots increased by 8.5 percent year-on-year, integrated circuit equipment by 31 percent, and new energy vehicles by 46.5 percent, according to Provincial Development and Reform Commission sources.

At Yingkou Jinchen Machinery Co, over 60 CNC machines process a variety of components in a factory workshop spanning 10,000 square meters.

The company is a global leader in producing facilities that make highly efficient photovoltaic cells and parts, and has over 210 customers in more than 20 countries and regions.

Jinchen's executive vice president, Qi Haishen, said the company had taken a path "empowering it toward new productivity". Since its establishment, Jinchen has focused on new fields and industries, and transformed and developed products through its own innovation.

Also located in Yingkou, Kanghui New Materials Technology Co is breathing new life into the polyester materials industry. Using cutting-edge polyester synthesis technology, the company is building an industry-leading production base for film materials, lithium battery separators, high-performance engineering resins, and biodegradable new materials.

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