Amid COVID-19, various firms seek digital solutions【5G technology, Supply chain performance, Digital transformation action】


An employee of JD, a Chinese tech firm, works at a logistics center in Beijing. WU XIAOHUI/CHINA DAILY

BEIJING-This year is another challenging one for textile company owner Rong Juchuan, who faces the protracted impact of COVID-19. But in the eyes of the industry veteran, burgeoning digital technologies offer a ray of hope for his company and even the whole textile sector.

Beyond Group in Zhejiang province, a manufacturing base in East China, has vowed to channel more energy to digital fronts this year.

Ambitious plans have been hammered out to push forward transformation. Rong said his company will leverage livestreaming platforms to expand sales and explore the application of the industrial internet in production lines to lower operating costs.

Beyond's digitalization drive offers a glimpse into how Chinese manufacturers, especially those in traditional industries, are striving to weather economic hardships by embracing the trend.

Fast-developing digital technologies from big data to 5G are widespread in the manufacturing sector and are reshaping the broader economic landscape. In 2020, China's digital economy rose 9.7 percent year-on-year to 39.2 trillion yuan ($6.16 trillion), accounting for 38.6 percent of the country's total GDP.

For manufacturers, in particular, digitalization means decreased information asymmetry and increased supply chain transparency, enabling quality growth and allowing for better responses to market fluctuations.

During recent COVID-19 resurgences, the role of digitalization has become even more crucial in ensuring a dynamic and disruption-free real economy.

As the highly contagious Omicron variant has caused COVID-19 flareups in multiple regions across the country, parts of industrial chains have come under enormous pressure. In hard-hit cities, the flow of goods was congested for some small and medium-sized enterprises until intelligent transport technologies smoothed supply networks.

"We have been handling many times more orders than usual since March, with most coming from SMEs whose goods are stranded," said Ma Feng, a sales manager at JD Logistics.

Through digital coordination among merchants, warehouses, operations and other links, products stored in different places can be deployed efficiently and supply chain performance can be guaranteed at a maximum level, Ma said.

At recent meetings, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has, in particular, urged efforts to make good use of 5G, the industrial internet and other digital technologies to help enterprises resolve difficulties and stabilize industrial and supply chains.

Given the increasingly significant role of digital technologies, increased policy support is in the pipeline.

MIIT chief engineer Tian Yulong has said that a digital transformation action plan is unfolding, including trials aimed at further combining information technology and manufacturing prowess.

This year's Government Work Report also included support for the digital sector.

"We will strengthen overall planning for the Digital China initiative, build more digital information infrastructure, develop an integrated national system of big data centers step by step and apply 5G technology on a larger scale," the report said.

As the pandemic lingers, Rong is still concerned about challenges. But, looking to the future, the seasoned businessman remains confident and energetic.

"Rather than waiting and being reactive, we need to be proactive," Rong said.