Shanghai stresses quality in economic reform
A recent four-episode documentary series has shed light on Shanghai's pursuit of quality in its economic structural reform over the years.
The series, Quality China, made its debut on the local Dragon Satellite TV on Sept 11 and told two inspiring stories on the R&D of the C919, China's first domestically-produced large passenger aircraft, as well as the National Quality Examination Center for Satellite Navigation and Positioning Service Products.
The C919 aircraft developed by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) completed a successful test flight in May, and is set to receive an airworthiness certification test in Yanliang, Northwest China's Shaanxi province in late September.
The engineers have been running a multitude of simulations through a platform to make sure all systems –– avionics, flight controls and hydraulic pressure –– are functioning well.
"We must take all possible scenarios, good and bad, into account and run simulation tests accordingly, to construct a model similar to the airworthiness certification test," said Xu Guanglei, a COMAC avionics expert.
The scientists have also developed a new anti-icing method to cope with the lighter, cleaner yet heat-resistant carbon fiber composites of the aircraft.
"We've created a metal sprayer coating to keep the temperature (of parts of the aircraft) below 120 degrees Celsius during operations. It's a new technology for future commercial aircraft," said Li Zhimao, a scientist at the company.
COMAC also set up a large test center in Shanghai in May to examine every single aircraft part before it is cleared for assembly. The enormous project has won support from global suppliers as it helps cut maintenance and repair costs.
Over the last few years, the C919 R&D team has set thousands of quality standards, which set a foundation for the manufacture of future domestically-produced large aircraft, said Xu Jianqiang, head of the C919 quality control team.
In a similar move to COMAC, Shanghai also opened a national test center in 2013 to examine satellite navigation and positioning service products to boost the industry's growth.
The center boasts a perfect antenna module testing environment that is hundreds of times more precise than Beidou, the country's flagship satellite navigation system. In other words, it can be accurate to within 1 millimeter, which provides key technical support for satellite navigation and positioning service providers.
The center also helps companies to cut R&D costs.
"The engineers can find out problems in modules or even smaller chips quickly and make appropriate modifications, instead of amending the finished product as they used to," said Zhang Jiaming, a manager at Shanghai Ubiquitous Navigation Co.
It's estimated that China's satellite navigation industry will garner a production value of more than 400 billion yuan ($26.2 billion) by 2020.
Shanghai has invested heavily in emerging industries such as high-end equipment, smart manufacturing and new energy; experts have also stressed the importance of quality control.
"We'll create an environment that emphasizes innovation and quality, and place quality ahead of speed in economic development. I hope one day large aircraft and the Beidou system will become China's new business card, just like the high-speed trains," said Ma Xingfa, an official with Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Committee.