Integration of 5G technologies in the industrial internet sector has improved the quality and efficiency of China's iron and steel industry by several notches, especially through the use of big data-based functions such as remote control, collaborative operations, and troubleshooting.
Wuhan Iron and Steel Co. Ltd., a steelmaker in Wuhan, has been one of the companies which successfully leveraged 5G technologies to improve its production processes. Today, the company has a complete set of equipment with advanced production processes for coking, ironing, steel making and steel rolling, among others.
Wu Xiaodi, executive director of Wuhan Iron and Steel, said they have successfully shifted to intelligent manufacturing operations during the past four years.
"Besides real-time monitoring, the management system enables human-machine dialogue and allows workers to give orders to machines. Intelligent logistics and scheduling systems have helped improve the overall level of intelligence. During this process, much of the work previously done by people has been replaced by automation or drone. The advanced tech also came in handy for combating the spread of the pandemic," he said.
According to Wu, the shift has given the steelmaker increased confidence in normal production and pandemic prevention and control.
Wu added that the steelmaker is also exploring more ways to ensure the smooth flow of the entire logistics system. "In this effort, we received strong support from the Hubei provincial government. When we found it difficult to establish contact with our suppliers due to pandemic restrictions, the local government stepped in with coordination efforts."
"If small enterprises are shut down, several support facilities will face supply disruptions, while our production will be hampered. So the government has been actively coordinating to help them resume production, All of these ensure that the supply chain functions smoothly. After the Wuhan experience in 2020, we are now more aware of the importance of smart manufacturing, especially for such sudden and unexpected situations," he said.
Wu said that they are introducing robots to simplify the manufacturing process. The company will add 10,000 robots to replace humans for simple, repetitive and relatively tiring jobs.
"When we use robots in manufacturing, there is more data generated. We are also exploring ways to turn numbers into real assets for our company and tap into the efficiency of the assets, which we call the digital revolution. Our next step is to ensure targeted decision-making through digitalization," added Wu.