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Enabling Chinese industry with AI technology

Pubdate:2019-11-05 Views:174

Since the establishment of science and technology innovation board, many "hard technology" companies that are not well known to the public have emerged.


On July 22, 2019, science and technology innovation board officially opened in Shanghai Stock Exchange. As a new incremental board, science and Technology Innovation Board focuses on supporting new generation of information technology, high-end equipment, new materials, new energy, energy conservation and environmental protection, bio medicine and other high-tech industries and strategic industries. There are 25 enterprises listed in the first batch of science and technology innovation board, and Suzhou Tianzhun technology, which takes machine vision (also known as computer vision) as the core technology, is one of the first 25 listed enterprises, and is the only one of the first batch of companies listed in science and Technology Innovation Board that adopts the third set of standards (there are five sets of standards listed in science and technology innovation board, compared with the third set of standards, the requirements for business operation are more stringent).


Tianzhun technology mainly applies the core technology of machine vision to the industrial field, including machine vision algorithm, industrial data platform, advanced visual sensor, precision drive control technology and other cutting-edge scientific and technological fields. After the listing of science and technology innovation board, Tianzhun technology is also known as "China's first industrial artificial intelligence". On September 24, two months after Tianzhun technology was listed on the science and technology innovation board, the cumulative increase of Tianzhun technology has reached more than 50%, and the total market value has reached 7.996 billion yuan.


How to combine machine vision with industry? How to empower Chinese industry with artificial intelligence technology? How to transform scientific and technological talents into scientific and technological entrepreneurs? Recently, a reporter from China Business News interviewed Xu Yihua, chairman of Tianzhun technology.


Goalkeeper in manufacturing


Up to now, we have more than 3000 customers, all middle and high-end customers in the manufacturing industry, who have accumulated channels, brand awareness and customer recognition for us.


China Business Daily: the core technology of Tianzhun technology is machine vision. What technology is machine vision? What is the relationship between machine vision and the hot AI?


Xu Yihua: when I was a graduate student in 1998, my major was computer vision. The computer vision industry is very small. In short, it is to use computers to simulate human visual ability. This sounds very simple, but it is a very complex discipline. Up to now, the research on this industry has been ongoing, and many problems have not been solved.


In recent years, AI has been known all over the world because alpha dogs have won in go with people. Vision is the most important branch of artificial intelligence, because 70% of human access to information depends on vision.


It's just that the artificial intelligence industry was not developed as a whole before, and it will not be collectively referred to as artificial intelligence. Natural language processing is language processing, semantic processing is semantic processing, and visual processing is visual processing. In the past, we used to say that we are doing vision. Now we are all back. We all say that we are an artificial intelligence industry.


China Business News: in 2005, the founding team of Tianzhun technology began to start business in Beijing. The earliest product of Tianzhun technology is precision instrument testing. Why do you choose to start your business in this field?


Xu Yihua: I worked in Microsoft Research Institute after my master's degree in 2001. My work is still in the direction of vision. In 2005, I came out from Microsoft Research Institute to do precision testing instruments, which is inevitable and accidental.


At that time, the ability level of computer vision was not the same as it is now. There are not so many problems that can be solved by computer vision. After deep learning, the technical boundary of computer vision has taken a big step forward. For example, face recognition can reach the stage of industrial application. But more than ten years ago, computer vision could only solve some problems in two industries, one is industry, the other is medical image processing. So people with visual education background either become professors or develop in these two industries. I chose the industrial field.


A bigger background is that made in China was big but not strong in 2005. We want to use computer vision technology to serve the industry and change the situation of big but not strong industry in China. In this context, it is also accidental to choose this product line. At that time, my friend found me to make a precision measuring instrument, which at that time was a product available abroad and not available at home. Because of my professional counterpart, I took the job. As a result, the product that was expected to be finished in six months was finally finished in three years, and then it was directly finished in this industry.


It took us four years to solve the basic problems of product and operation. After doing this, it is found that the precision measuring instrument requires comprehensive technology, including not only the visual part, but also all-round technical problems of machinery, electrical appliances and software. Precision measuring instruments have a wide range of applications, which can be used in all walks of life and all fields of industry. What we solve is the demand of quality department to control production quality. We are the gatekeeper of manufacturing industry and the gatekeeper of quality. Up to now, we have more than 3000 customers, all middle and high-end customers in the manufacturing industry, who have accumulated channels, brand awareness and customer recognition for us.


China Business Daily: Why did you come to Suzhou from Beijing in 2009?


Xu Yihua: most of our customers and suppliers are near the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, just in 2009 Suzhou attracted investment. Compared with Beijing, Suzhou and its surrounding industrial enterprises are more, to Suzhou means closer to customers. From the perspective of R & D talents, Suzhou has some gaps compared with Beijing. After years of exploration, we have also summed up some methods: high-end talents, with great flexibility, can be solved with personalized solutions; the school recruits with better qualifications form the talent echelon of the company. For any company, talent is hard to find.


Put "eyes" on manufacturing


Full inspection equipment needs to be embedded in the production line, which is equivalent to "eyes" on the production line. Such full inspection equipment has a large demand for us, which will be much larger than the random inspection.


China Business Daily: Tianzhun technology's business includes not only precision measuring instruments, but also intelligent testing equipment, intelligent manufacturing system and personaless flow car. Why does Tianzhun technology extend its business from precision measuring instruments?


Xu Yihua: the advantage of precision measuring instruments is that they cover a wide area and are used in all fields of industry, but the problem is that the total market capacity is small. In order to control the production quality, the quality department of general industry will select one or several products for sampling inspection. If the products pass the inspection, it will be deemed that this batch is qualified. If it is not suitable, it will adjust the process, and then take some for inspection. Generally speaking, most of these factories are based on random inspection, and there are few requirements for the quantity of our products.


In 2011, we began to think about how to make business value bigger and social value bigger. We find that some industries in the manufacturing industry can't meet the demand of spot check, the industry has higher and higher requirements for quality, spot check can't meet the market demand, and some industries need full inspection. Especially with the development of high-end manufacturing industry, there are more and more such industries. Full inspection equipment needs to be embedded in the production line, which is equivalent to "eyes" on the production line. Such full inspection equipment has a large demand for us, which will be much larger than the random inspection. The most typical industries are smart phones, photovoltaic, semiconductor and other industries.


We are an enterprise that is engaged in testing equipment. Over the years, our customers have a high degree of trust in us. Intelligent manufacturing system is the third product line developed according to the needs of customers. It is not only testing, but also the whole solution. It is the industry 4.0, intelligent manufacturing, and the core technology of industrial vision and industrial artificial intelligence. Article 4 the unmanned vehicle business of the business line is still a forward-looking business. At present, everyone's volume has not come up.


China Business Daily: intelligent testing equipment is the largest business segment of Tianzhun technology. Many photovoltaic enterprises will use Tianzhun technology's equipment. Apple and its supply chain enterprises are also big customers of Tianzhun technology. Before Tianzhun made intelligent testing equipment, there were corresponding products abroad. Can you compare the difference before and after the localization of intelligent testing equipment by Tianzhun technology?


Xu Yihua: take photovoltaic intelligent testing equipment as an example. Before the application of artificial intelligence, it was basically unsolvable to solve the problem of automatic detection of photovoltaic on the production line. If the spot check is based on human eyes, it can be detected, but the full check can not be detected by human eyes, because the output is too large.


Intelligent detection and sorting equipment is the last link in the photovoltaic industry chain to be localized. Previously, one imported equipment cost a lot and can detect 3000 pieces in an hour. Now our equipment can detect 8500 pieces in an hour, and the cost of a single equipment has decreased by more than 60%. This change takes place within three years. Because in western countries, the market economy is relatively mature, and the competition is not so fierce as in China. They will take the initiative to differentiate, Chinese industries will compete with each other, and the surviving enterprises will be very competitive. The competition of foreign products is to reduce the price a little bit and improve the performance a little bit, but once we enter, we will force the price of foreign products to drop dramatically.