Photo shows the smart jacking platform of China State Construction used at the construction site of the Wuhan Greenland Center, a skyscraper under construction in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province. (Photo/Official website of China State Construction)

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Recently, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) directly under the central government of China displayed their innovations in high-end equipment manufacturing at an exhibition held in Beijing at the headquarters of China Railway Group Limited (CREC), showing that China’s calling card of smart manufacturing shines even brighter.

China State Construction exhibited a prototype of its smart jacking platform, the first of its kind in the world, which caught the eyes of many visitors. The smart jacking platform, which is about four and a half stories high, has a bearing capacity of 2,000 tons and is able to withstand 14-degree hurricanes. It allows constructors to work aloft smoothly and complete a structural layer within three days.

China National Building Material Group Co., Ltd. (CNBM) brought to the exhibition silicon nitride ceramic ball bearings. The black ball bearings, which look like ordinary glass marbles, have broken the monopoly of foreign companies on precision bearing rollers for high-end equipment. They have replaced imported ball bearings in engines, precision machine tools, and large-scale medical instruments.

The CREC exhibited a huge hard rock tunnel boring machine (TBM) developed and built by it. With an excavation diameter of 15.03 meters, the TBM is equivalent to a five-storey building in length.

At present, the TBM is playing a crucial role in the construction of the Kvesheti-Kobi road in Georgia, improving the efficiency of construction by three times.

SOEs in China are focusing their efforts on smart manufacturing to reform, optimize and upgrade industrial technologies, and drive the transformation from “Made in China” to “Created in China”, speed-orientated to quality-orientated, and from improving products to brands.

Many Chinese SOEs have broken through their bottlenecks and improved weak links by leveraging smart manufacturing.

China General Technology (Group) Holding Co., Ltd., or Genertec, has seen major progress in the manufacturing technology of high-precision horizontal machine tools. The positioning accuracy and repetitive positioning accuracy of its linear axis have reached 3 microns and 1.5 microns, respectively.

The CNBM has continuously invested in high modulus graphite, and taken the lead in realizing key technological breakthroughs in dry jet wet spinning technique and independent production of core equipment, becoming a qualified supplier of home-made large aircraft.

In addition, China’s SOEs have continuously heightened independent innovation in machine tools, high-end chips, basic software, new materials, and other weak links in industry, and allocated talents, resources, and advanced equipment to priority tasks for more and bigger breakthroughs.

Smart manufacturing has helped SOEs effectively improve product quality and their business performance. China First Heavy Industries (CFHI) has gained independent intellectual property rights on manufacturing technologies of Generation III reactors and pressure vessels, and developed an extra-large forge-welded hydrogenation reactor. The application of its reactor at home helps cut the import price of relevant foreign products by 75 percent.

By tapping into digitalization of R&D and developing more intelligent and higher-end products, the CRRC Corporation Limited (CRRC) has launched a number of representative works including the high-quality high-speed trains for the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway and the Beijing-Xiong’an intercity railway.

Smart manufacturing has added glamour to the brand image of Chinese enterprises. Since last year, many key projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have made progress despite the COVID-19 epidemic, including the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail in Indonesia, the China-Laos railway and the Padma Bridge in Bangladesh.

The CREC, China Railway Construction Corporation Limited (CRCC), China Communications Construction and other central SOEs involved in BRI projects have made China’s smart manufacturing known by more people in the world.

The CREC’s shield machines have been adopted in a metro project in Paris, signifying the entry of China’s shield machines into top global high-end market. 

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