“Excavator is so sexy”

“The jewel in the crown of construction machinery! Absolutely all-round equipment!”

It is no exaggeration that if it were not for Lanxiang Technical School, most ordinary people would not have much deep understanding of excavators, which are “fashionable and rustic” construction machinery.

But you may not even know that excavator manufacturing is also undergoing a vigorous “fission” that has been eroded and transformed by a large number of new technologies.

"Excavator is so sexy"

This “low-profile Transformers”, which is almost obscure on the construction site and everyone knows but does not pay too much attention, was described passionately by Jiang Qingbin, deputy general manager of Sany Pumping Company, as: “The crown of construction machinery The Pearl! It is definitely an all-round device!”

Perhaps only Chinese manufacturers in the construction machinery industry can have such natural pride and joy in excavators. Not only is it not an exaggeration, but on the contrary, there is a kind of intimacy that the farmer uncle has a deep love for the yellow land in “The Love of Mountains and Seas”.

“As long as you start to build infrastructure, you don’t necessarily need a crane, but you must use an excavator? It can be used for hoisting, digging, mounding, and rolling… Almighty talent! Who wants to be bigger and stronger in the construction machinery market? , We must build an excavator!”

"Excavator is so sexy"

Jiang Qingbin, the deputy general manager of Sany Pumping Company, is an industrial person who is easy to make people feel good. We will call him Jiang Gong below. He passionately explained the production line transformation of excavators, pumps and other construction machinery.

Do you still remember the dozens of excavators that carried the banner of the construction of Wuhan “Xiaotangshan” Hospital when the new crown epidemic was the worst? Most people may not have thought that the production core and manufacturing process of these “stupid and crude tool people” who are responsible for the major tasks of China’s infrastructure construction are moving towards a high-end and intelligent world that is not inferior to consumer electronics.

This is a rare visit to the Sany Changsha Lighthouse Factory. Jiang Gong’s industrial knowledge has left a deep impression on us. When we thought that this master who had been in the construction machinery industry for 20 years would tell the great achievements of Sany in manufacturing excavators and pump trucks, he only told us two stories:

First, China’s construction machinery has been stuck on the neck for decades, and was “smashed by the head” by foreign brands; second, the excavator factory is far inferior to industrial production lines such as automobiles and consumer electronics, but it is not impossible to do it. upgrade.

"Excavator is so sexy"


At first glance, the excavator is composed of a two-row gear base, plus a “nunchaku” and a “digging spoon”. But from a more professional point of view, the external hardware of construction machinery we can see is all “structural parts.”

However, hidden in the steel skin are actually two more critical parts-one is the heart of construction machinery “electromechanical fluids” (motors, electrics and hydraulics); the other is a software system that is easily overlooked. .

And what Jiang Gong said is the core components under the iron sheet —cylinders, hydraulics, and engines .

"Excavator is so sexy"

The key component of the excavator-the cylinder (the part in the “neck” of the excavator)

Before 2011, 90% of the excavator manufacturers in the Chinese market were Hitachi and Komatsu of Japan, Carter of the United States, and Chinese equipment, which has not been very good. Only the excavator Jiang Gong has been working for more than ten years, so it is clear that the gap between Chinese and foreign machinery 10 years ago was almost a sky and an underground.

At that time, the number of excavators that China can produce depends on how many cylinders the world’s two largest cylinder manufacturers put on the Chinese market, one is KYB from Japan, and the other is Toyo Mechatronics from South Korea. Just like the current chip, cylinder manufacturing is also a technology node that is subject to people in excavator manufacturing.

However, over the past 10 years, the domestic oil cylinder company Hengli Hydraulics is considered small and well-known, and it can go “horizontally”; and excavator manufacturers also have the ability to make core components. “SANY can now supply almost 70% of it by itself, and 30% of it has to purchase Hengli.”

Like many technology industries such as mobile phones and panels, China’s construction machinery industry is also a long process of “running after the giants”. Until more and more Chinese companies can put their own logo on the black metal shells of some self-use engines and hydraulic equipment.

But Jiang Gong also admitted that there are two reasons why Sany can quickly narrow the gap with the world’s top level in 10 years.

One is that China’s real estate-driven infrastructure boom in the past 10 years has allowed the excavator market to taste unprecedented sweetness; the other is that in 2012, Sany acquired the world’s number one brand of concrete machinery — Germany, known as the “elephant” Putzmeister.

This German company, founded in 1958, is the most famous construction machinery manufacturer in the world. Its global market share is as high as 40%, and more than 90% of its revenue comes from overseas.

There is no doubt that this move has suddenly shortened the technical level of Sany, Carter and Komatsu.

But it should be noted that technology shortening the gap does not mean exceeding.

“Now we still have our own shortcomings, and the shortcomings are the’super large’ equipment.” Jiang Gong mentioned Hitachi’s 800-ton super hydraulic excavator (EX8000), which is said to be currently rich or impossible to buy. , The core manufacturing technology is still in the hands of foreign manufacturers.

“However, in terms of large digging, medium digging and small digging (here divided by bucket capacity and tonnage), there is not much difference between Chinese manufacturers and Carter in technology and quality.”

In addition to key components such as engines and cylinders, do not underestimate the “reaction force” of the software system on construction machinery.

Just like the driving force of “software-defined cars” in the Volkswagen market, the new functions of excavators, including the “fixed speed system”, are behind the sinking of software and algorithms from the high-end equipment market.

 “In fact, it is the software system that supports the maximum effectiveness of the three of electromechanical and hydraulic. Now “unmanned” is also beginning to affect the construction machinery market. Although it is only a junior, it must be paid attention.

"Excavator is so sexy"

Sany’s own engine

Compared with the huge benefits that China’s infrastructure market has brought to construction machinery manufacturers, the troubles Sany has encountered in decades are also quite contemporary.

Sany Group, the parent company of Sany Heavy Industries, established by the four founders Liang Wengen, Yuan Jinhua, Mao Zhongwu, and Tang Xiuguo in an abandoned village branch in Maotang Town, Lianyuan, has experienced events since its establishment in 1989. A “Historical Struggle of Giant Sling + Turtle Struggle”:

It has been sued by Benz for many years for “trademark infringement”. In 2005, China’s share-trading reform had to eat crabs first. The sales volume of Carter and Komatsu was rubbed on the ground, the road to internationalization was hindered, and the product R&D capability was not favored by the outside world. The income is suspected of fraud…

“Our chairman also explained when he talked about trademarks. He said that when he founded Sany in the village, he didn’t even know that there was a Mercedes-Benz company in the world.” The two companies have indeed been fighting for more than ten years. Many international lawsuits have been filed.

“There is also the share-trading reform. At that time, many experiments were carried out. After the conflict between the major shareholders and the minority shareholders of a company intensified, there was a lot of commotion. The second family, but made a lot of arrangements in advance, and finally passed calmly, and we became the first.”

Another example is the current industry 4.0 storm sweeping the world, and upgrading and transformation are on the line. Sany Heavy Industry has also begun to upgrade its production lines, build a lighthouse factory, and incubate the “Root Interconnect”, one of the most famous industrial Internet platforms in China, which has actually been questioned by the industry——

Device networking is the industrial Internet? Is the security of the production of connected devices as “indestructible” as advertised?

"Excavator is so sexy"

Sany Chairman Liang Wengen has a famous saying-“Either turn over or capsize”. From the perspective of the degree of enthusiasm for the networking, transformation and upgrading of industrial equipment in three pairs, this sentence does prove to be.

After all, this is a hugely profitable industry from the outside, and you can lie down and win without doing anything. But profiteering industries are also prone to reluctance to make progress. So, should I choose to do nothing? Or choose “Try it if you make a mistake”? Or choose to “behave”?

Every large-scale manufacturing company must have its own steelyard in mind.

In fact, the impression of the production line within the Sany factory gave me the biggest feeling, not how awesome their technical ability they have, but their attitude towards new technologies, much like an elephant cub:

Heavy and lively, clumsy but brisk. Full of uncertain contradictions.

The key to the lighthouse factory is still “people”

Clean, mint leaves, few people, cool wind, and screens everywhere.

This Changsha lighthouse factory, which has a model significance for Sany and the national construction machinery industry, does not have the mess of traditional factories, but it is not as tall as imagined.

"Excavator is so sexy"

This factory mainly produces pump trucks

After all, this assembly line, which still requires a lot of manpower, is almost incomparable with the configuration of a consumer-grade automobile factory and a high-end electronic component factory.

If you have seen Tesla and other auto companies’ modern factories with “big pliers waving”, we can tell you very clearly that most of the domestic industrial sectors have not yet reached that level.

"Excavator is so sexy"

Tesla factory, picture from Wired

But in the construction machinery industry, this factory is indeed a “small peak”.

Especially compared with Jiang Gong’s description of “the workshop ten years ago was dirty, messy and poor, and accidents continued”, this clean workshop with a faint mint leaf smell is in line with most people’s impression of a “big country heavy weapon”. Average.

An industry person familiar with commercial vehicles such as buses once told us that the pursuit of mass production and large-scale C-end industrial products can take a car off the line in a few minutes, while the “on-demand” 2B commercial market, It’s all “As many as you want, I will produce as many orders.”

Therefore, industries such as commercial vehicles and construction machinery are more inclined to the “manual mode” in terms of production, rather than pursuing purely large-scale automation.

This can also explain why in the aerospace field, when it comes to “satellite production”, it is always joking that it is “hand rubbing mud pill.”

Therefore, the difference in business model and production model makes the lighthouse factory of each industry very unique.

"Excavator is so sexy"

In fact, in addition to the final assembly, the automation level of production nodes including welding and picking is very high.

Obviously, there are few workers in the welding area where the yellow robotic arm swings from side to side. This confirms Jiang Gong’s unmanned description of the “Lighthouse Factory”:

“Compared with the traditional workshop, this factory has reduced the manpower by 67%, and will continue to reduce this year, leaving only about 500 people.”

The welding zone has a very high degree of automation, all of which are robotic arms

However, from the perspective of “intelligence”, this factory is not a smart factory in the literal sense. Its biggest feature is actually the ingenious integration of Internet technology and the best use of “people” .

This is the picking area. Each material is automatically screened and detected by the system and transported by the self-driving car. The degree of automation is already very high.

First of all, on the assembly line where the degree of automation is not high, “people” are still the key force to lever each fulcrum.

On each closely aligned pump truck assembly station, there is a “square screen” hanging above-the material distribution status, number of labor dispatches, and labor reporting rate for each order are clearly recorded and publicized.

"Excavator is so sexy"

There is a big blue screen at the top of each pump truck station in the final assembly line to record the job report

According to our observations on the spot, you can understand it as a “logistics management system” that feeds back express information in Taobao. Next to the pump truck, we interviewed a young worker who was holding a tablet computer and was following the prompts on the page to update the order progress.

“After each order is completed, we have to confirm it on the tablet. This is very closely related to our daily settlement of wages. The more the number of (dispatched workers) is completed, the more one day’s wages will be.”

"Excavator is so sexy"

The operator is using a tablet to report for work

It is understandable that the final assembly line is limited by the production model problems mentioned above and cannot be upgraded with excessive automation. Therefore, if you want to improve efficiency, you need to reduce the connection time between each node on the final assembly line.

In other words, the application of these systems is essentially to improve the work efficiency of workers.

"Excavator is so sexy"

Will use the camera to check whether there is no safety helmet on the scene, etc.

In addition to the system for detailed records of dispatch and order status, thousands of cameras cover the workshop in all directions without blind spots .

“The requirement of coverage rate is that if you can’t find you suddenly while standing somewhere, and still can’t find you for more than 1 minute, we have to add cameras.”

Jiang Gong emphasized that this is not surveillance, but to achieve safer and lean production in a 100% work-related scene.

“As long as there is a person who does not wear a helmet and a place is not cleaned, the camera will report and remind. I will add more than 2,000 employees in the research and development below. The attendance status is clear at a glance, and there will be no leave but no report.”

In addition, he mentioned a “problem” that most large Chinese manufacturing companies have-managers rarely visit the scene. Especially once the leader is busy, the time to go to the scene will be much less.

“So, our on-site management is actually lost to European, American and Japanese companies. Then the establishment of’remote visualization conditions’ is a good way.”

"Excavator is so sexy"

Using computer vision, messy or water stains on the ground will also be immediately noticed

Device networking is the industrial Internet?

In the workshop, another technical point worthy of attention is actually the “Industrial Internet” that has been full of gimmicks in recent years.

This “hot vocabulary” originated from General Electric’s first Industrial Internet white paper in 2012, literally named the core value that can be brought to industry: by means of digitization, linking the core equipment, people and data of industrial production.

According to the “equipment link” standard, the lighthouse factory of Sany is indeed above the passing line.

It should be known that the eight processes of cutting, welding, machining, and painting of an excavator are condensed into a space that has been reduced by 50% compared to the area of ​​a traditional factory building. The data is indispensable for the “tightening” and “Reinforcement” role.

"Excavator is so sexy"

The status of each device at a glance

 As a manufacturer of excavators, Sany has the greatest control over the data of each device.

We have discussed in other articles before that, compared with technical service companies, industrial equipment manufacturers actually have a unique advantage in data applications- they usually know exactly what data is generated during the equipment production process and what data can be generated .

For example, as the leader of excavator equipment in China, Sany excavator has a national market share of about 30%. Then its excavators sold across the country can be calculated according to the number and operating rate of excavators in various provinces and cities. Judge certain development trends in various regions.

 “You see, the excavator activity in the image is 68% in Zhejiang and 24% in Shanghai. What does this reflect? The activity of our country’s infrastructure can also be seen in a certain area of ​​economic activity. .”

"Excavator is so sexy"

This is the trend of equipment operating rate in a first-tier city in the past year

Of course, we should not look too high on the difficulty of “equipment connection” and “industrial data analysis” .

In the consumer field, such as Taobao or Jingdong, developers must first establish a reasonable connection-the point is that this connection is between strangers and strange items :

The fact that “a person who wants to buy sneakers has also looked for other similar products before” is a connection. This connection allows the platform to place advertisements more accurately for this group of associated unfamiliar sellers .

However, there has always been a clear connection between different industrial data, equipment and equipment operations. Everyone is a “brother and sister” in a workshop.

The power of big data is to “connect irrelevant data to attract customers”, but the “acquaintance analysis” of machine and robot data has actually been written in the past 10 years. Well-written industrial analysis programs have been implemented. Quick and accurate analysis. Because when, which equipment or which equipment component should provide which values ​​are known.

In other words, if you want to analyze deviations and failures, the current industrial analysis software can basically cover most situations.

In other words, to make the so-called big data and AI play a real role, they need to “mine” useful and high-quality data from the hundreds of types of data generated in the factory every day, and delete the useless data in the hard disk. Then find the deep and complex relationship between data and between data and people .

"Excavator is so sexy"

The status of a certain device is not very good, and the standby rate is too long

Judging from the scene conditions seen, the networking of different equipment in the workshop has reached a very high level: the super-large electronic screen can display the basic operation of each machine on each production process node-the boot time , Operating time, total power consumption and other dimensions. If there is a “standby” or “offline situation”, the screen will warn the operator with different colors.

But it is also obvious that most of the data types we see are basic information that comes with the device, which is “what you see is what you get”.

It’s like an electronic ledger that records “you ate eggs, apples, rice today…”, but it lacks “what is the nutritional synergy or conflict between these foods”, “people eat these foods in the future. What kind of reaction will it produce” and “how will it be better matched in the future” and other deeper analysis.

In other words, the “big data mining” and “machine learning” capabilities behind the industrial Internet platform have not yet been further proven.

"Excavator is so sexy"

The picture shows the operating status of each device after being “image-simulated” (digital twin)

However, as mentioned above, the visual presentation of data after large-scale networking of equipment and the use of existing industrial software analysis techniques can already bring about considerable production efficiency improvements .

“After all the devices are connected to the Internet, all kinds of data are more intuitive, and the response speed of each node is faster. In 2011, our output value was more than 75 billion, and we used more than 11,000 key equipment; and now we will achieve more than 130 billion in 2020, with only equipment More than 8,000 are needed.”

Therefore, the biggest benefit we have seen from the industrial Internet achievements at this stage is that “problems can be discovered in time, human work efficiency is greatly improved, and process stalls are reduced.”

“In the past, one car could be taken off the assembly line in 45 minutes, but now it has been reduced to one car in 35 minutes. During the peak sales season, 32 cars leave the factory every day, and a record of 850 units was set in May.”

But at the same time, he is also very sincere. It is clear that these achievements are horizontally aligned with other industries, and may have only reached a “primary level of automation and intelligence.” For example, there are still problems with hoisting in the factory. The so-called “unmanned hoisting” actually only exists in the “unloading” link, and hoisting in other places is manned.

“We still haven’t realized unmanned in many places, and there are still many places that haven’t realized intelligence.”

Factory transformation is also the transformation of Chinese workers

Through the “unmanned”, a set of figures given by Jiang Gong made a group of people lost in thought:

In 2011, Santian Heavy Industry’s revenue reached a small peak of 75 billion, but at that time the group had 70,000 employees. However, revenue in 2020 reached 136.8 billion, which is equivalent to doubling, while the total number of employees is less than 40,000.

“In fact, the most important thing is that the talent structure has changed. Today, 60% of the 40,000 people are technical personnel. In 2011, more than 80% of the 70,000 people were workers.”

It is cruel, but it is also a fact: one of the greatest significances of the birth of the “lighthouse factory” is “unmanned”. The transformation of production lines from automation to intelligence will inevitably be accompanied by the disappearance of a large number of jobs.

"Excavator is so sexy"

Worker master in performing operation

What’s interesting is that this topic that has been inevitably mentioned in major industrial upgrading and transformation forums in the past five years has actually been “considered to him” by managers, and not many people are willing to give firm conclusions;

On the other hand, media public opinion has begun to make judgments such as “factory wages are low, boring, and losing employment attractiveness” around “young people are no longer willing to enter factories”, and want to further verify that “digital transformation of factories” is the general trend.

Are the two contradictory? Not really.

In fact, according to our first-line communication with the factory, large and medium-sized industrial companies have invested huge capital in technological upgrades, so their salary for senior technicians, big data and algorithm engineers is far beyond our imagination.

A professor even told us that the average salary of senior engineers in China’s large factories is higher than that of most European and American countries.

But you must see clearly that the position here refers to a “new technical engineer”, not an ordinary front-line worker with only a single operation capability. In other words, if it is a mechanical action of “press a button, pull down the operating valve, or record a few strokes on the watch book,” why not use a machine instead?

And this is the key point of job loss but lack of talents:

Jobs with no technical content are gradually disappearing, and they need to disappear. This will inevitably eliminate workers without in-depth technical capabilities; and those with core software skills find their jobs boring and inflexible, and their prospects are not as attractive as the Internet industry.

 In the factory of Sany, the number of “per capita wages can reach 13,000” surprised us a bit. This seems to have broken the factory stereotype of “dirty and low money” to some extent, and also proved the “value” of technical talents.

“You can get more than 20,000 here. Just ask a worker. In fact, the cost of labor is rising sharply.” Jiang Gong himself is a mechanic, and he can feel that the talent structure has undergone tremendous changes in the past 10 years.

“Our workers must be turned into engineers. In the past, if he only knew how to weld, he should take the initiative to learn mechanical programming. We used to ride bicycles, so now we must force ourselves to learn to drive, otherwise we will be Eliminated.”

More and more people have realized that the transformation of Chinese factories is also the transformation of Chinese workers.

In fact, I’m not just a factory in the leadership of the Ministry of Information have heard the same recommendations and conclusions –

“Workers have to upgrade themselves, they have to embrace changes, in addition to learning new technical knowledge such as big data, they also have to solidify their past experience.

Therefore, rather than canceling posts, it is better to change the content and working methods of workers, and let people do some learning, analysis and sorting. “

This is an impeccable idea both conceptually and logically. However, from the perspective of China’s national conditions and practice, the difficulty is comparable to that of heaven.

First, the age structure of a factory determines how easy it is for workers to accept new things.

Let many people who have been accustomed to “switching in the water” for many years on their production lines and have a low level of education to do transformations such as “study and research” may be more life-threatening than “pure manual labor”.

Secondly, many local state-owned enterprises, factories and related units are shouldering the responsibility of “ensuring employment.” Although it is “not sound”, the truth is that people with learning ability do not need to be assured most of the time. It is precisely people who have no learning and technical ability to be “protected.

Leading machinery companies such as Sany Heavy Industry that have undergone shareholding reforms and have a strong ability to accept new things are attractive to technical talents to a certain extent; the more skinny fact is that most traditional extensive factories And small and medium-sized enterprises, the ability to attract talents is generally low, and the cultural quality of workers is generally low.

At the same time, the cost of intelligent equipment, the other side of “people”, is still showing an orderly downward trend without any hindrance.

Just like a mobile phone that was nearly 10,000 yuan five years ago, now maybe 2,000 yuan can be bought. Another example is the price of a “robotic arm” in the Sany factory in 2011 at least 1 million, but the same configuration now only costs 200,000.

The labor cost for one person is at least 180,000 a year, and there is absolutely no problem with replacing two people with a robotic arm. The cost of the factory can be recovered in less than two years, and the cost advantage is full.

"Excavator is so sexy"

 It has to be said that the “two-eight law” exists in any corner of any industry. “Worker elimination” is an inevitable result of the transformation.

If we can’t find the “sense of crisis” in the future, then history can always tell us the ending:

Every time a major change in which machine production replaces human production occurs, people will fall into deep fear-their jobs will be lost. But all the industrial revolutions in history will lead to a large number of job losses, the first time, the second time and the third time, so the fourth industrial revolution is bound to be.

"Excavator is so sexy"

Most people have seen the news about “big data, artificial intelligence talent shortage everywhere”, but an interesting discovery gave me more personal experience of the above historical conclusions:

At a certain artificial intelligence conference in Qingdao, teachers from Peking University and Tsinghua University, local universities and local vocational colleges gave speeches on the same stage. I have participated in large and small scientific and technological conferences, and I can prove that this is relatively rare in the artificial intelligence activities where famous schools and high-level talents gathered in the past.

Obviously, more and more vocational colleges also offer artificial intelligence courses, and more and more young people in technical schools are beginning to realize the importance of new technologies . It is a very wise decision to cultivate artificial intelligence talents from the most basic level and change the structure of education and learning.

This means that the new generation of young workers in the factory will benefit from the changes in education and knowledge structure, step onto the stage of history, and fill in the missing abilities and thinking of the older generation of workers.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/excavator-is-so-sexy/
Coinyuppie is an open information publishing platform, all information provided is not related to the views and positions of coinyuppie, and does not constitute any investment and financial advice. Users are expected to carefully screen and prevent risks.

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