Wing Hu, Partner at Gobi Partners China was joined by Gerry Zhou — CEO of BoraNet, Marks Zhang — Co-Founder of MegaRobo, and Derek Zheng — CEO of Thingworks on the Gobi Tech Open Day “Industry 4.0 — Exploring Intelligent Manufacturing Technologies” panel as they discuss the opportunities in the sector which has experienced significant growth under initiatives like “Made In China 2025” and “One Belt One Road”.
Zhang, Co-Founder of MegaRobo which specializes in lightweight collaborative robots and automation solutions in biotech, smart retail, and manufacturing, shared how catering to their clients’ needs meant reprioritizing their products’ technical features. For example, manufacturing robots are typically built with efficiency as its key feature, but for collaborative robots, while efficiency is still crucial, safety is a much higher priority since they operate alongside humans. Zhang added that broadening the scope of the developed technology’s application use cases is just as important to staying competitive. As investors become even more sophisticated, businesses that do not operate strong business models will encounter immense challenges when seeking funding.
On the other hand, Zhou, CEO of BoraNet, offered his view on the importance of offering targeted solutions. He noted that manufacturers of various sizes have very different demands when it comes to business process improvement. The high volume of small-scale manufacturers in China are still looking to automate certain processes, whereas mid-sized players are going through digitization projects as they explore leveraging data for further business growth. Large enterprises on the other hand, are looking to consolidate data across business units or even entities to utilize analytics on a group level. BoraNet targets growing mid-sized manufacturers through their cloud MES (manufacturing execution system) platform that consolidates data collected from different business processes to allow for a more effective overall business management practice. Having a strong understanding of the market and how their needs will change as these target businesses scale has been the key to BoraNet’s growth, giving them the insight to accurately cater to customers’ needs.
Zheng, CEO of Thingworks, meets the market’s needs by offering low-cost digital solutions. Thingworks is a manufacturing dashboard system that allows frontline plant workers without the technological know-how to analyze data in order to improve efficiency and operational performance. Zheng also has plans to offer other solutions to help manufacturers standardize their business processes to achieve higher efficiencies. He foresees further opportunities in the field as IIoT (industrial internet of things) has become more accessible and the market’s appetite for these technologies continues to grow.
The panel agreed that as more capital is poured into the IIoT / Industry 4.0 sector, accelerated growth is to be expected. However, entrepreneurs must also adopt a long-term vision to scale their businesses with the growing but competitive market.
Stay tuned as we cover the last highlight post of the Gobi Tech Open Day event in our upcoming post: “Further Opportunities in Enterprise Solutions”
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