More efforts are needed to find common technical standards for Industry 4.0, so as to further the cooperation between China and Germany on leveraging cutting-edge technologies to upgrade manufacturing, a renowned German expert said.
Industry 4.0 is roughly defined as the transformation of industrial manufacturing and production systems by introducing new technologies.
Clas Neumann, senior vice-president of German software and cloud service giant SAP, said: "We need standards for data transmission, and for data between machines and software. Only with common technical standards, we can easily apply innovations from Germany to China and the other way around."
According to him, mutual trust is the foundation for partnership, and finding common technical standards is important to further the existing cooperation between China and Germany on Industry 4.0.
"If everybody works in different standards, the work will be far more complex," said Neumann, who is also the head of Global SAP Labs Network, the core research and development entity of SAP with 20 research and development centers in 17 countries around the world.
Neumann said that there are several things that China and Germany can learn from each other. Germany, for instance, is a leader in setting industrial standards, and in China, the drive for digitalization is very quick and there is a high willingness to digitalize processes and to test certain technologies such as block chain.
Currently, SAP is partnering with the Shenyang Institute of Automation in China to support agile manufacturing and internet services to promote automated manufacturing in China.
Yu Haibin, head of the Shenyang Institute of Automation, said the institute has decades of experience in engineering and intelligent systems. The partnership with SAP can lead to more cutting-edge products that can help boost China's manufacturing capability.
SAP is now integrating its software with robots and other hardware developed by the Shenyang Institute of Automation so that assembly lines can be more agile and flexible.
The German company's labs in the country have more than 3,500 employees and 97 percent of them are Chinese talent. "China is striving for the best digital solutions and world-leading practices which can be applied to other countries around the world," Neumann said. "We are now innovating in China for China and the world."
The China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, recently unveiled a white paper to summarize the progress of China-German ties on Industry 4.0.
The white paper said Germany places more emphasis on the use of the internet of things technologies in manufacturing while China's industrial internet initiative covers not only manufacturing, but also includes energy, healthcare, architecture and other sectors.
More efforts can be made to strengthen communication between China and Germany on setting industrial standards and data protection, the white paper said.