Stunning innovations and surprises as CIIF opens in Shanghai
Cutting-edge products and innovations, from robots, 5G, low carbon to automation, are the stars at the China International Industrial Fair 2023, or CIIF, which opened in Shanghai on Tuesday, featuring global and national debuts and first-time exhibitors.
The CIIF, which returned to offline mode for the first time after three years, is turning into a global stage for companies and colleges to showcase innovation and latest results and points to rebounding demand in China's market.
A global innovation stage
Robots undoubtedly are a top highlight, with the world's top four robot makers – FANUC, ABB, KUKA and Yaskawa – present at the CIIF. In fact, several dozen robot firms have taken up two whole halls, 7.1 and 8.1, at the venue.
Switzerland-based ABB launched a modular software platform and the IRB 1090 educational robot at CIIF 2023 on Tuesday, giving them global debuts.
"Robotics is experiencing significant growth due to global megatrends, including a shrinking workforce, supply chain disruptions and a fundamental need to operate more sustainably and efficiently," said Marc Segura, president of ABB Robotics Division.
The new IRB 1090 robot is ABB's latest educational offering, featuring a fully-customizable education system and free licenses to help bridge the skills gap in robotics education by preparing students for the future of work. Due to security and regulatory requirements, its data and servers are set up locally, Shanghai Daily learned.
In 2022, ABB opened a Robotics Mega Factory in Shanghai to show its commitment and confidence in the Chinese market, one of the world's largest and fastest-growing robotics markets.
France-based Schneider Electric is showcasing a new collaborative robot at the fair, representing its first step in creating the next-generation robotic systems. In the future, the company will help device manufacturers and even end-users build automated devices and products that are more agile, efficient and flexible.
As "an expert and advocate for industrial automation" as well as for transformation towards green and smart manufacturing, Schneider Electric is building a "Industries of the Future" blueprint, where advanced robots and technologies will be among the pieces of the puzzle, the company said.
Rockwell Automation, a first-time exhibitor at the CIIF, is showcasing smart city, digital industrial applications and carbon neutrality applications and its cooperation with Chinese partners.
The American company has joined hands with China Mobile to help clients build 5G automated factories with 5G, AI and IoT functions. Its Independent Cart Technology, or ICT, applications have been used by top Chinese battery firms, improving battery production efficiency with "Zero Carbon" target for carbon neutrality, Shanghai Daily learned at its booth.
Shanghai firms' innovations
Shanghai firms are also flexing their tech muscles at the fair.
A helicopter-like aircraft model is displayed at the Jinshan smart manufacturing booth, which is the first "air taxi" model appearing at the CIIF.
The eVTOL, referring to electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, is often called an "air taxi", representing a future transportation method in the face of challenges like traffic jams and carbon emissions, according to its manufacturer Vertaxi, a Shanghai-based startup.
The driver-less Vertaxi eVTOL vehicle M1, featuring full electric energy, five seats and a 250-kilometer flight range, is expected to be used in urban transportation, disaster relief, as well as the energy and logistics industries. Currently, it's undergoing trial flying tests, which will be followed by cargo transportation and eventually an autonomous "air taxi" service.
Shanghai-based industrial robot maker JAKA released a new 2.5D vision display platform to make robots smarter and improve control accuracy.
At its booth, several dozen JAKA robots dance while other robots make coffee for visitors and play with Rubik's cube automatically, drawing hordes of visitors.
Spot lights in CIIF's college zone
Eighty-seven universities from China and abroad are showcasing 815 of their latest innovative programs at the fair.
The universities include 20 from Shanghai, 61 from other parts of China and six from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Australia and Thailand.
Among them, Shanghai's Fudan University is displaying its XINSORB biodegradable stent, developed by a team led by Dr Ge Junbo of Zhongshan Hospital Affiliated to Fudan University over 15 years.
According to the team, the heart stent made with polylactic acid, the first of its kind in China, degrades into water and carbon dioxide one year after implantation and can be absorbed by human bodies in two to four years.
"Diseased blood vessels can restore their structure and don't need the stents' braced force in three to four months after implant. Patients who have received implants of traditional metal stent may face risks of inflammation or need to undergo another surgery to take the stents out," Chen Han, a member of the team, explained. "The degradable stent can solve the problems and benefit patients."
The product has been implanted into more than 28,000 patients in over 700 hospitals in China since it was approved by the National Medical Products Administration on March 4, 2020.
But Chen also said that the current version of XINSORB biodegradable stent cannot completely replace metal ones.
"The current version is more suitable for young patients with simple conditions rather than patients with complicated coronary lesions," she pointed out. "We will continue our research to improve our products to benefit a larger population."
At the booth of Donghua University, known for its fashion education and research strength in fabrics, visitors can see not only materials used for producing clothes, but also those that can be woven into deployable antenna for satellites.
East China Normal University exhibits include a geomagnetic resonance system that can draw "fingerprint spectrum" of edible oil. The spectra in the system show the different chemical composition of the oil and any contaminants, and thus can determine the oil quality in about 10 minutes and help ensure food safety.
The Shanghai Normal University booth boasts a robot that can detect and defuse bombs automatically.
East China University of Science and Technology is also displaying several of its latest scientific innovations, such as bone-repairing materials and sensors that can monitor cellular metabolism.
Other spot light is a virtual reality-powered acupuncture training system. It helps TCM medical students find acupuncture points correctly and calibrate intensity, Shanghai Daily learned at the booth of the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The CIIF is being held at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), which is also the venue for the annual China International Import Expo, in suburban Qingpu District. With an exhibition space of over 300,000 square meters, the fair, which will run through Saturday, has attracted more than 2,800 exhibitors from 30 countries and regions.