Low-end Production to World-Class Innovation with Industry 4.0 & IIoT Technologies

For decades, China has been a haven to produce low-end products. However, there’s an emerging desire to serve technology-driven fields, such as automotive, pharmaceuticals and aerospace.

Kim Zhang, Mechanical Design Engineer, has recently joined the Facteon China design team. Backed by a Masters in Mechanical Design, Manufacturing and Automation from Technical University of Munich in Germany, Kim has combined her technical design skills with an understanding of the latest Industry 4.0 and Industrial IoT (IIoT) manufacturing technologies.

What opportunity do you see for robotics & automation in the China market?

To many China manufacturers, the rewards of robotics and automation are clear: improved efficiencies, energy savings along with reduced energy consumption and labour costs. As many manufacturers know, the step from understanding the benefits in theory to implementing the technologies in your facility is a major roadblock. To overcome this, manufacturers need to start this journey with well-defined end goal. This goal may be to improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), increase product yield or reduce waste, for example. Automation and IIoT technologies are tools for achieving these goals.

How does Industry 4.0 & IIoT fit into this?

To compete on a global scale, China manufacturers must harness the power of both automation and IIoT technologies. We define IIoT as: The technologies and architectures that support the collection, storage, movement and analysis of industrial data. The process of integrating IIoT technologies is often relatively simple when working with an experienced technology partner. For example, data can be drawn from machinery of any age through the addition of sensors. A single robotic cell also has the potential to improve operational performance. Often, these solutions come at a fraction of the cost of a large-scale production facility upgrade.

What advice do you offer to China manufacturers wanting to compete in technology-driven fields?

Start small. China’s best manufacturers have proven to be lighthouses. This term was coined by World Economic Forum to describe manufacturers successfully finding opportunity through the implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies. Lighthouses make giant leaps, invalidating industry benchmarks in the process. 

My advice to manufacturers is to not be discouraged if your facility isn’t able to scale up and revolutionise your operations at speed. A basic understanding of Industry 4.0 technologies and a clear vision of what you’re wanting to achieve is the first step on your Industry 4.0 journey.

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Kim Zhang

Kim Zhang

Mechanical Design Engineer

Joining Facteon China in late 2019, Kim brings close to a decade of mechanical design experience. Kim was previously employed by MESNAC having held a variety of roles from Head of Department – Product Modularisation, Research & Development Project Manager and Technical Team Lead. Kim’s depth of mechanical design experience is supported by a Masters in Mechanical Design, Manufacturing and Automation from Technical University of Munich, Germany.