PARTNER CONTENT: At MWC Shanghai 2024, Zheng Xin (pictured), VP at Yangtze Optical Fibre and Cable (YOFC), emphasised the growing trend for enterprises in the manufacturing sector to integrate AI into their operations to drive digital transformation.

Speaking on the topic of Empowering Manufacturing DX for a Smart Future, Zheng highlighted the key role of 5G, IoT and AI technologies in the transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing industry. He also shared practical applications and explored future prospects for the digital economy.

“AI is leading a new round of global scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation as never before. Sectors including medical care, education, transportation and household services have experienced rapid growth of AI, greatly improving production and people’s way of life.”

Zheng added the optical-fibre producer embraces intelligent manufacturing practices, leveraging advanced technologies like AI algorithms and big data to develop simulation software. Its advances have been applied to various processes, including equipment, operation and maintenance digitisation, as well as fully automated logistics within workshops, and digital twins, significantly enhancing product quality and production efficiency.

As a pioneer of manufacturing DX, YOFC shares its experience across various industries and sectors. In regions such as Jiangxi, Shanghai and Liaoning in China, it established a series of 5G smart factories.

Guided by its mission of Smart Link Better Life, Zheng explained YOFC will put more effort into boosting its manufacturing DX capabilities by focusing on finding ways to boost productivity.

The company has used its Wuhan Digital Factory Model to replicate its success at the facility at more than 30 production bases at home and abroad, building smart factories in Indonesia, Poland, South Africa, Brazil and other countries.

At a factory producing lithium-ion copper foil (used in batteries) it deployed a dual-gigabit all-optical F5G+WiFi6 network and a distributed control system. The move to an intelligent factory resulted in a 10 per cent increase in production efficiency, a 15 per cent reduction in operating costs and a 15 per cent lower defect rate. Energy utilisation efficiency​ increased by 30 per cent.

Robust outlook
China’s intelligent manufacturing market reached CNY8.8 trillion (US$1.2 trillion) in 2023 and is forecast to more than double to CNY19.3 trillion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of about 11.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, the global intelligent manufacturing market is expected to grow from CNY32.7 trillion last year to CNY61.7 trillion by 2030.

In recent years, the deep integration and application of intelligent manufacturing and key industrial chains have accelerated the upgrading process of traditional industries, Zheng noted.​

YOFC, the leader in optical communication, was founded in 1988, as a joint venture between the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Wuhan city and Netherlands-based Philips. It invested CNY775 million in R&D in 2023 and employs more than 9,100 staff.

Next-gen fibre
YOFC has developed high-quality optical networks using innovative fibre technology, driven by ultra-high-speed optical communication technology. This not only responds to the challenges posed by complex upgrades in AI applications and data traffic surges in computing infrastructure but also enables AI to swiftly process and analyse data, he said.

A new generation of trunk line fibre (G.654.E) features low non-linear effect and low attenuation factor, supporting backbone network transmission requiring large bandwidth, low latency and long span. As a result, this type of fibre is considered by the industry as the preferred choice for 400G, 800G and future Tb/s ultra-high-speed transmission technologies.

At the end of May, YOFC, China Unicom and Nokia Shanghai Bell completed an 800G ultra-long-haul test, realising the transmission distance of single-carrier 800G PCS-16QAM/[email protected] cable. As the first successful ultra-long-haul transmission test of single-carrier 800G in China, the achievement not only marks the doubling of transmission rates, but marks the opening of a new commercial era in the communication field, he claimed.

YOFC also has deployed the next generation of ultra-high speed communication technology represented by space division multiplexing (SDM) fibre and hollow-core fibre. YOFC’s hollow-core fibre enabled China Mobile to open the world’s first test network for transmission technology of 800G hollow-core fibre (Guangdong–Dongguan, Shenzhen).

In collaboration with China Telecom, YOFC kicked off the world’s first demonstration project of a hollow-core fibre cable transmission system on an existing network, featuring a single-wavelength rate of 1.2Tb/s and a one-way transmission rate exceeding 100Tb/s.

YOFC, together with China Unicom, conducted a communication transmission experiment using hollow-core fibre with a single-wave rate up to 1.2 Tb/s, breaking the global record for the single-wave rate of 10.2km hollow-core fibre transmission and achieving a transmission capacity of 32×1.2Tb/s. In addition, in partnership with China Telecom, the company created a one-way real-time signal transmission capacity of 100.4Tb/s on 20km hollow-core fibre, setting another record.

Zheng said these high-speed optical transmission tests on hollow-core fibre, conducted by YOFC in cooperation with operators and industrial partners, as well as the setting of new world records for optical transmission, highlight the company’s technical strength and leading advantages in hollow-core fibre.