China fast-tracks Industry 4.0 with 30 5G factories, new ‘international’ IoT platforms
The parallel narratives around cellular 5G and Industry 4.0 are about to collide. China has said it will build 30 brand new ‘smart factories’ by 2023, all of them threaded with 5G. If ever there was a signpost for this (telco-styled version of a) new industrial promised land, where a ‘fourth industrial revolution’ is sprung by cellular connectivity, then this might be it: the biggest manufacturing nation in the world has said it will “fast-track” 5G for industry.
The country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) revealed a new Industry 4.0 “action plan” last week, for the three years to the end of 2023, including the construction of 30 “5G factories”, plus a “big data centre” for the ‘industrial internet’, and “three to five industrial internet platforms with international influence”. These brand-new homegrown industry IoT platforms “will come into being” in the period, it said.
MIIT said China has already “nurtured over 70 industrial internet platforms into regional influence”, connecting 60 million-odd sets of industrial equipment and more than 400,000 industrial enterprises. China expects “rapid growth of China’s industrial internet”; MIIT suggested state investment will go into “integration with 5G”, which will be put into action by the end of the term in “5G factories in 10 key industries”.
The government reckons all ‘prefecture-level’ cities in China, meaning unified city-based jurisdictions covering regional city districts and provincial cities, already have “full” 5G coverage, supporting around 200 million 5G connections and around 1,100 industrial IoT projects. The country will deploy 600,000 new 5G base stations in 2021, with a keen eye also on its application in immersive gaming, life services, healthcare, and also “housekeeping”.
Zhao Zhiguo, director of the cybersecurity management at MIIT, said: “Continuous efforts will be made to organize 5G millimeter wave tests, speed up the research and development of key technologies, shore up the weak links, and ensure the safety of the industrial and supply chains.”
MIIT said of the government’s new Industry 4.0 plan: “Emerging business formats will prevail such as intelligent manufacturing, network-based collaboration and personalized customization during the period.”
Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s virtual event, The Davos Agenda, Chinese President Xi Jinping this week called for both greater global efforts in the fight against Cobid-19 and renewed commitment to multilateral cooperation. “Now is the time for major development and major transformation,” he said.
Among a number of objectives for “a better future”, and against the backdrop of international sanctions against China-based 5G vendors, including Huawei and ZTE, Xi called for renewed collaboration and cooperation between countries.
He said: “We have been shown time and again that to beggar thy neighbour, to go it alone, and to slip into arrogant isolation will always fail… [A] zero-sum-game or winner-takes-all [approach] is not the philosophy of the Chinese people. We should stay committed to international law and international rules, instead of seeking one’s own supremacy.”
On technology, Xi said: “Science, technology and innovation is a key engine for human progress… China will create an open, fair, equitable and non-discriminatory scientific environment that is beneficial to all.”