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China Daily Global / 2021-03 / 09 / Page009

Haier's president pushes industrial internet system

By XIE CHUANJIAO in Qingdao, Shandong | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-03-09 00:00

For five years in a row, Zhou Yunjie has sought to promote industrial internet at the two sessions, the annual sittings of China's top legislature and top political advisory body.

Zhou is not only the president of home appliance giant Haier Group, but also a deputy to the National People's Congress. "Building an industrial internet with Chinese characteristics to promote high-quality growth of the real economy will have an all-around revolutionary influence on the future of the country's industrial development."

As many developed economies race to develop their industrial internet in the latest round of the fourth industrial revolution, China has paid increasing attention.

The field has witnessed robust growth with enhanced infrastructure and innovative business models taking shape over the past three years.

The Chinese industrial internet is expected to experience faster growth in the near future, thanks to a three-year development plan recently revealed by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

In his proposal during the two sessions this year, Zhou called for open-source industrial alliances on the basis of enhanced internet and data security, to encourage fundamental innovation and improve the capacity of platforms.

He also suggested that Chinese companies test their industrial internet models at their own overseas operations before promoting them on a large scale to overseas companies.

"Industrial internet means a new round of development opportunities for China," Zhou said. "With the help of industrial internet, many hidden champions will emerge across numerous segments in China."

He said he expects that China will sharpen its global competitive edge in diversified competition during the next three to five years, and contribute a "Chinese model" that features mutual benefits for the world's industrial transformation.

Globally, it is widely acknowledged that Predix, developed by General Electric in the United States, and MindSphere, developed by Siemens in Germany, represent the top-level industrial internet systems.

The former uses new-generation information technologies to empower manufacturing in a top-down approach, while the latter gives full play to Germany's advanced high-end manufacturing and focuses on a bottom-up optimization of the production process.

"Industrial internet is the second half of internet competition," Zhou said.

He said he believes that China, as both a global-scale manufacturer and an internet powerhouse, must develop its own industrial internet system featuring interaction and integration with the consumer internet-one that is driven by its users.

China is the only country in the world that ticks all 41 industrial categories under the United Nations' industrial classification standard, with abundant application scenarios. Those advantages grant China unique benefits in developing industrial internet systems, Zhou said.

However, new challenges have emerged, including the uneven development levels of Chinese companies and the conflict between differentiated needs and limited supply capacity of current industrial internet systems.

To tackle these challenges, it is necessary to meet the various needs of small and medium-sized enterprises, which account for 90 percent of China's total number of companies and represent more than 60 percent of GDP, 70 percent of innovative technologies and 80 percent of urban employment.

"Empowering the SMEs so that they stay active and dynamic is the key to building the industrial internet system with Chinese characteristics," Zhou said.

Haier started experimenting with its industrial internet system in 2012. In 2017, it unveiled the Cosmo-Plat system, a user-centered industrial internet platform that allows users to participate, interact and customize solutions throughout the entire process.

The platform is the first of its kind in the world. CosmoPlat has topped the list of leading domestic cross-industry and cross-domain industrial internet platforms by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for two consecutive years. As an ecosystem "jointly built by large companies and shared by small companies", CosmoPlat offers one-stop differentiated and targeted solutions for a variety of companies.


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