Technology brings industrial miracles into the market
In the laser lab of HGTECH, a Wuhanbased industrial technology enterprise, a dense beam of laser light hit a tiny target under the generator, leaving a barely visible mark.
The technicians in the laser lab repeat the same tests hundreds, even thousands of times every day.
Most people may not be aware of the purpose behind the dense purple laser light, but for the researchers and engineers in HGTECH, therein lies the key to ending the technology monopoly game.
“In the automotive assembly line, laser welding and soldering is a very crucial part, and the technology used to be monopolized by established companies such as ABB of Sweden and KUKA of Italy,” said HGTECH’s vice-chairman, professor Deng Jiake.
“The Chinese production industry had to rely heavily on the technology and equipment from other countries, increasing cost. It was hard to break through the technology monopoly.”
Laser manufacturing is one of the signature areas of Optics Valley in Wuhan, and has been at the helm of the entire industry in China. Since 2001, Chinese laser manufacturers have dedicated themselves to developing their own laser welding technology, according to Deng.
“We started our research on laser manufacturing more than a decade ago. From 2001 to 2015, the project has been focused on mapping the entire industry,” said Deng.
“We hired many experts from aboard and invested heavily in laser generators, key technology that has been traditionally held by other countries.”
Honda Guangzhou was the first to adopt the made-in-China laser welding technology for their automobile assembly line. More automobile companies such as GM, JAC and JMC later accepted offers from HGTECH.
Forty years’ monopoly on automobile laser welding has been put to an end, further consolidating HGTECH’s leading role in the industry.
But the ambition of HGTECH is not simply to commercialize their technology and become a manufacturer of such equipment.
HGTECH is expanding their business to every link of the industry, from design to production to communication and logistics.
Efficient commercialization is the reason behind HGTECH’s success and the astonishing rise of Optics Valley’s revenue.
Statistics show the total revenue reached 120 million yuan in 2016, 20 percent more than 2015.
It is expected to exceed 300 million yuan ($43.6 million) by the end of 2020.
Many high-tech startups in different areas have successfully made their inventions into products like HGTECH’s.
Another example is Hongshi Technology Co. People at the company believe that the future of security systems is iris recognition technology.
Hongshi is the first Chinese company to successfully apply such technology to lock production.
“Surveillance cameras nowadays use facial recognition, and 80 percent of the alarms they set off are false because of the low accuracy.
“But the chance of false alarm can be reduced to one in 10 million,” said Yi Kaijun, chairman of Hongshi Technology Co.
Yi believes Hongshi’s products have great market potential and could be applied to a wide range of situations that require higher security levels and better surveillance systems than face or fingerprint recognition, such as public transport, police systems and prison monitoring.
“Technology, no matter how advanced it is, does not mean anything to your clients, but your products do. We target the demands of the market, and we think our products could be the new solution for public safety.”
While doing his PhD in the US, Yi was impressed by the speed of the commercialization of new technology.
He started to look for a project with high market potential, and he decided to pursue iris recognition technology in 2011.
Attracted by the beneficial policies offered by Optics Valley, Yi started his company at the end of 2011. After the first generation of products was put into the domestic market, sales reached 10 million yuan. Yi has yet an even more ambitious vision to expand the market.
“We brought our sample to Singapore and people loved it. Now we are planning to open our sub-branch in Singapore,” Yi said.
Technicians examine facilities at Hongshi Technology Co, a high-end enterprise in Wuhan’s Optics Valley.