Business / Technology

Industries to benefit from smart workshops

By Yan Yiqi (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-19 11:24

When you think of workshops in manufacturing companies, you would often associate them with lines of workers standing or sitting in front of an assembly line, busy at work.

But that may soon change. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, aims to automate the whole manufacturing process, whereby machines will handle the entire work starting from order processing to packaging.

At the "Light of the Internet" expo, organized as part of the Second World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, the Shenyang Institute of Automation at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and German software major SAP SE exhibited a smart industrial workshop, that runs on SAP software.

The model manufacturing unit allows customers to place orders through a computer, including their preferences on model, color and size, and the machines will put them into production subsequently.

It takes just a few minutes to complete the entire process, and apart from the customer who places the order, not a single human being is involved.

Wang Ting, associate professor at the industrial control network and system laboratory of the institute, said the workshop will be able to undertake small, diverse production requirements.

"All the machines are controlled through wireless over the Internet and customers can place their orders with the machines directly," he said.

Wang said that the exhibit is a prototype of the successful combination of Internet Plus and intelligent manufacturing.

"With the WIA (Wireless Networks for Industrial Automation) technology, the machines could have their own WeChat accounts in the future and respond to more customers' orders," he said.

Zhang Weiqiang, general manager of Jiaxing Liyou Toys Co, said he believes that such workshops can help save costs for manufacturers.

"It can also break the barrier between customers and factories, letting us know what customers want directly," he said.

Wang said that a more complicated and advanced intelligent workshop will be on show in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, at the beginning of next year.

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