Across China: Intelligent factory gives customers final say on design

Source: Xinhua| 2020-11-11 16:45:40|Editor: huaxia

by Xinhua writers Yao Yulin, Song Rui

TIANJIN, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- A furniture manufacturing workshop in north China's Tianjin Municipality is offering customers the chance to customize their furniture remotely using their mobile phones. They can choose colors, materials or carved patterns without ever entering a store.

Customization through intelligentization helps shift the factory stereotype, according to Xu Hai, general manager of Markor Furnishings C2M.

"'Factory' is not supposed to be a synonym for 'low-end,' 'polluting' and 'cookie-cutter,' but a 'WALL-E' reality with cutting-edge technologies and futuristic robots," Xu said.

In the 2008 animated Pixar film "WALL-E," short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, robots that have developed personalities fill the screen. The sci-fi world is similar to what visitors can see at the company's intelligent manufacturing workshop in the Binhai New Area, Tianjin.

Dwarfish, square-headed porter robots crisscross the open space, picking up their required parts from shelves and transporting them to production lines for assembly and coating, according to the specifications of online consumers.

Wood is cut, shaped and polished jointly by robots and human workers on the assembly lines. Finished furniture is then scanned and large amounts of information including category and size are quickly read and processed. The packaging line then determines suitable outer packing for each design.

"Everything is commanded by the 'smart brain' over there," Xu said, pointing toward a two-story-high control room that automatically processes roughly 200,000 pieces of dynamic data and millions of pieces of stored information each day.

With intelligent production, it only takes 14 days to deliver furniture following a customer's order, which is incredible," said Xu.

The intelligent factory is expecting a boom. Its production efficiency has risen by 36 percent, while its energy consumption per unit of output has dropped by 39 percent.

Official data indicates that in the first three quarters of this year, the added value of Tianjin's high-tech manufacturing industry accounted for 15.4 percent of the total of the municipality's industrial enterprises above designated size, 1.3 percentage points higher than the same period last year. Investment in high-tech manufacturing grew by 4.7 percent as well, according to the Tianjin Industrial and Information Technology Bureau.

"Thanks to the intelligent upgrading, our capacity has recovered rapidly from the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic and our sales have gained burgeoning momentum," said Xu.

In recent years, the municipality has gone all out in efforts to promote the intelligent upgrading of its manufacturing industry. With a total of 3.64 billion yuan (about 550 million U.S. dollars) in supporting funds, it has fostered 75 smart factories and digital workshops, including FAW Toyota's new factory, Haier's 5G smart factory, and the Danfoss smart manufacturing lighthouse factory. Enditem