How AI can power product development

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A team of engineers are using advanced algorithms to design the industry equipment of tomorrow

Artificial intelligence research is a booming trend in many industries. But how exactly will this technology impact industry and our lives? Siemens China has a competitive team devoted to exploring its practical functions

Part of the Digital Enterprise Labs team at the Siemens Industrialization 4.0 Research Centre in Shanghai, Lead Engineer and product owner Dr. Wu Wenchao is gazing the future.

His current project employs advanced algorithms to realize predictive maintenance for industry equipment, and he’s busy exploring ways to enable computers to use data to aid their learning. In doing so, it’s hoped that computers will be able to generate system pre-alerts to inform users as to the condition of certain equipment – especially if there is a problem with that equipment.

“Our core project, - APP development for predictive analytics in process industry, is an important part of Siemens China digitalization process. Our team has spent a lot of energy in this project,” says Wu.

“We are a young team, and the challenges are ahead of us.  Within the team, everyone gets along well and is open-minded as we are exploring in new field. It is perfect for us as we go about our work.”

“Industry 4.0 outlines the vision of bringing artificial intelligence (AI) and data into the world of automation and manufacturing,” says Wu. And it’s by continually honing systems and processes that engineers like Wu are playing a key role in driving China’s manufacturing future. Wu believes that Chinese industries can learn a lot from the concept and practice of Industry 4.0.

Boosting innovation through knowledge exchange

During his PhD, Wu’s research interests lay in data mining, visual analysis, and AI. While many of his lab mates chose to go to internet technology giants such as Google, Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent,  he went straight to Siemens after graduating.


Now, Wu applies his expertise to real-life situations, using his tech skills to carry out research and development, and shaping the future of intelligent manufacturing. “When I started out, big data analysis and AI were new fields for the manufacturing industry, which suited me as I wanted to try something new and interesting.”


Innovation plays a key role in Wu’s work. However, idea does not come from nowhere. Being creative also requires Wu to be practical about the proposal. In order to bring out a digital enterprise and smart manufacturing program, communication, cooperation and extensive research are essential ingredients for achievement.


First off, they visit factories to obtain the data resources they needed to understand the actual situation. “Because customers are using Siemens product, we can get firsthand information on a user’s actual need, which is the starting point as well as a firm foundation of all our development.”


They also draw on their academic backgrounds, looking to build a bridge with industry: “Our cooperation with some top research institutes and universities such as Tongji University, HKUST, and IBM Watson can help us to enrich our strategies and expand our ideas.”


Lastly, they regularly engage with the international teams in Digital Enterprise Lab (DEL). “Like us, these teams are mainly responsible for R&D, and we work together to break through crucial technical problems.”

We call on our colleagues around the world to support us in fulfilling the needs of our international clients
Wu Wenchao

The ability to create real change

As the leader of a small project team, Wu says it is Siemens’ approach to encouraging changes and out-of-the-box thinking that cultivates industry leaders. “It’s a veteran industrial enterprise that’s now embracing digitization. Its ability to adapt to change – like Industry 4.0 – is the reason it has grown from a small workshop made up of several workers to a multinational corporation.”


In addition, Wu is also a product owner, and he regularly calls on members of Siemens China headquarters throughout product development. “At the beginning of the project, the headquarters will provide help, so the masterplan is relatively well structured.” And when the progress of the project encounters difficulties, the Siemens global team will mobilize resources and help each other.


“If we encounter some technical challenges, we can get timely support. We call on our colleagues around the world to support us in fulfilling the needs of our international clients.”


As the company continues on its path to digitization and works to support the Chinese manufacturing upgrading, it’s clear that young engineers like Wu will continue to make their mark.


Wu Wenchao graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University before pursuing master and doctoral degrees at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He now finds himself back in Shanghai, where he works as a Lead Engineer at the Siemens PD Digital Enterprise (Industry 4.0) Innovation Centre.


Wu is a Future Maker – one of the 377,000 talented people working with us to shape the future.

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