A walkie-talkie has to pass repetitive drop tests and button-pressing trials to meet factory inspection standards.
In Hytera, a leading walkie-talkie manufacturing company based in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, most tests used to be conducted manually by quality inspectors.
"Workers pressing the on/off buttons tens of thousands of times a day were more prone to develop negative emotions. The testing accuracy was also hard to guarantee," Sun Meng, senior vice president of the company, recalled.
In 2011, the company started upgrading its production line and introduced robots for intelligent manufacturing. Now, sorting, labeling and coding of raw materials, assembling of parts, handling of products and quality tests are being done by robots.
With more than 20 intelligent production lines, the company's production automation rate has crossed 70 percent, said Sun.
"The yield rate and the production efficiency have greatly improved," he said, adding that the number of factory workers has decreased from more than 3,000 to about 1,000.
The transformation of Hytera represents smart transition in the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong, with a cluster of manufacturing companies. For the province, home to some 3 million industrial companies, the automation and digitalization of the manufacturing sector has become a must-take course for high-quality development.
Bi Yalei, secretary-general of Shenzhen Robotics Association (SRA), said with improved domestic industrial robot technology and reduced prices, more enterprises have started to adopt cost-effective China-made robots for automation transformation, especially the small and medium-sized manufacturing companies that are more cost sensitive.
Figures show that the output of industrial robots in Shenzhen witnessed a 75.5 percent year-on-year growth in the first seven months of this year, while the growth rate in the city of Dongguan was 123.3 percent year on year from January to June. A report released by the SRA said the output value of industrial robots in Shenzhen reached 90.4 billion yuan (about 14 billion U.S. dollars) in 2020, up 9.98 percent from 2019. The growth was 7.65 percentage points higher than that of the previous year.
According to the provincial department of industry and information technology, more than 15,000 industrial enterprises are engaged in digital transformation using industrial internet technology, and over 500,000 companies have adopted cloud technology.
Introducing artificial intelligence technology, TCL China Star Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd., a producer of semiconductor displays, has also replaced quality inspectors with robots, cutting the labor force of the sector by half and increasing efficiency nearly 10 times.
The company is trying to collect and analyze data of the entire production process, including the temperature and humidity, hoping to further improve the yield rate.
"We have to maximize production efficiency through high-level intelligence to further enhance the competitiveness of Made-in-China products," said Ding Liu'an, an employee with the digitalization office of the company.