BOE pins hopes on cutting-edge intelligent tech

A BOE employee checks equipment at a smart production facility in Hefei, Anhui province, in July. [XIE CHEN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

BOE Technology Group Co Ltd, a leading Chinese display panel supplier, is doubling down on the intelligent manufacturing segment and will increase its investment in fundamental and forward-looking technologies, as the company aims to leverage cutting-edge digital technologies to empower the digital transformation of traditional enterprises.

BOE has established 16 automatic and intelligent semiconductor display production lines across the country, which can automatically collect terminal data in the process of industrial production and form intelligent data analysis models, thus greatly reducing operational costs while improving efficiency, said Si Da, vice-president and chief brand officer of BOE.

The company’s factory in Fuzhou, Fujian province, which mainly produces high-end and super-large display panels, has been included in the World Economic Forum’s Global Lighthouse Network, a community consisting of world-leading manufacturers that use Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and big data to enable growth. BOE is the first and only display company from the Chinese mainland that has been listed as a Lighthouse factory.

Liu Wenrui, vice president of BOE and general manager of the BOE Fuzhou factory, said they have adopted digital technologies and advanced analytics in a fully automated production system, with production costs reduced by 34 percent and output up 33 percent.

Based on rich experience in intelligent manufacturing capacities, BOE has established an industrial internet platform, which provides digital transformation services for 200 companies across the nation and helps them improve productivity by about 30 percent, Si said.

The platform is expected to enhance the intelligent manufacturing and digitalization level along the upstream and downstream segments of industrial chains, according to the company.

The industrial internet, a new type of manufacturing automation that combines advanced machines, internet-connected sensors and big data analysis, will boost productivity and reduce costs in industrial production.

Statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed China has cultivated 150 large-scale industrial internet platforms, with more than 78 million units of industrial equipment connected to the platforms.

“The booming industrial internet will see surging demand for accuracy in data acquisition, transmission speed, storage space, computing capacities and intelligent application, thus driving the development of big data and cloud computing infrastructure and fostering a batch of industrial internet companies with global competitiveness, ” said Liu Xiangdong, a researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

The industrial internet has become a new engine driving the growth of the digital economy and has showcased remarkable development potential, Liu added.

In addition, BOE is betting big on next-generation semiconductor display technologies, such as organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) and micro light-emitting diodes (micro LED), which have great improvements in terms of image contrast, brightness and color spectrum .

According to statistics from Sigmaintell Consulting, a Beijing-based market research firm, BOE topped the domestic market with flexible OLED panel shipments of about 60 million units in 2021, up nearly 60 percent year-on-year, making it the world’s second-largest OLED maker next to South Korea’s Samsung.

The total revenue of BOE stood at 219.3 billion yuan ($32.5 billion) last year, up 61.79 percent year-on-year, while its net profit surged 413 percent to a record 25.8 billion yuan. Its expenditure on research and development surpassed 10 billion yuan in 2021.

China will overtake South Korea to become the biggest OLED manufacturer by 2024, as more Chinese companies have invested heavily in new OLED production lines, said Zhou Hua, chief analyst at CINNO Research, a Chinese flat panel display consultancy firm.

Li Yaqin, general manager of Sigmaintell, said demand for flexible OLED panels used in foldable smartphones will continue to increase this year on the back of the commercial application of 5G technology, and panel makers should further improve their yield rate capacities and reduce production costs.

Flexible OLED panels will gain popularity in mid-range smartphones which will be priced at more than 2,500 yuan by 2025, Li said.

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