When China's 'Made in China 2025' meets Germany's 'Industry 4.0'
Premier Li Keqiang takes photos with workers while holding the Chinese characters "Zhong Guo Zhi Zao," or made in China, at the Han's Laser Technology Industry Group Co Ltd in Dongguan, Guangdong province on Oct 13, 2016. [Photo: chinadaily.com.cn]
In 2012, Germany launched the concept of "Industry 4.0" in its manufacturing sector. Three years later, a similar Chinese initiative, or the "Made in China 2025," debuted.
Both countries are among the world's leading manufacturing powerhouses.
INDUSTRY 4.0 & MADE IN CHINA 2025
The heart of the "Industry 4.0" idea is intelligent manufacturing. In the German context, it means using the Internet to connect small and medium-sized companies in a more efficient way in global production and innovation networks.
"Made in China 2025" is the first ten-year action plan designed to transform China from a manufacturing giant that relies on low-cost labor into a world manufacturing power. The plan is designed to increase national competitiveness and stimulate innovation rather than simply supporting a single industry.
During German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to China in 2015, the two sides pledged to bolster the connection between "Made in China 2025" and the German "Industry 4.0" strategy to promote entrepreneurship and innovation.
Robots work on a production line at a car factory in Cangzhou city, north China's Hebei Province, Oct. 18, 2016. [Photo: Xinhua]
Cooperation in high end manufacturing and service industries are listed as the major focuses for future development.
In the Sino-German Industrial Services Zone in South China's Foshan city, many German businesses, including international trade fair organizer Hannover Messe, environmental company Remondis, as well as leading robot maker Kuka Robotics, have all settled into the new base.
At the same time, Chinese investors are gravitating toward Germany's "Industry 4.0" program through a series of acquisitions. In January, Midea, a Chinese household appliances manufacturer, completed a takeover of Kuka. It now controls 94.55% of Kuka's shares.
To learn more from its German counterparts, the Hannover-based Robotation Academy has been introduced into the Foshan Service Zone to provide training for around a thousand industrial representatives per year.
A Kuka technician programs a robot arm of German industrial robot maker Kuka at the company's stand during the Hannover Fair in Hanover, Germany, April 25, 2016. [Photo: Reuters]
In addition to linking manufacturers, industrial cities from the two countries are also being connected. In April 2016, a Sino-German Industrial City Alliance was officially launched, attracting 24 cities to try to find their partner at a municipal level.
One of them is Hangzhou, where a clean energy factory run by Chint Group was put into production in July 2016.
Adopting cutting edge robotic technology from Hannover Messe, the number of workers at the Chint factory workshop has been reduced by 60%, saving labor costs worth almost 100 million yuan each year.
Having achieved an "Industry 4.0" standard, Chint Group is now one of the leading solar power producers in China. It's also listed as one of the demonstration projects of Sino-German cooperation by the Chinese government.