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AI Case Study

Sinopec builds smart factories and supporting platform for manufacturing based on AI

China Petrochemical Corporation, called the Sinopec Group, has collaborated with Huawei to develop smart factories as well as a platform to support smart manufacturing. AI can help treamline the chemical reaction processes by adjusting the volumes of crude oil, fuels, and catalysts necessary for the refining process based on gathered data. Four factories are running as pilots for Smart Factory 1.0 and have recorded a 10% increase in labour productivity. Additionally, to integrate data and centralise operations the companies are developing Smart Factory 2.0, an AI-powered platform.



Oil And Gas

Project Overview

"Petro-CyberWorks Information Technology Company Limited (PCITC), a joint venture of Sinopec Group and Pacific Century CyberWorks Limited (PCCW), is the contractor for building these pilot smart factories. PCITC chose Huawei to make smart factories a reality. Big Data and machine learning technologies are used in smart factories.

By facilitating the gathering of refining and production information, these technologies help streamline the chemical reaction processes during refining and production, and dynamically adjust the volumes of crude oil, fuels, and catalysts necessary for the refining process. The resulting benefits include optimal productivity at the lowest energy consumption, without compromising the oil quality. Additionally, experiential models for running equipment as well as Operations and Maintenance (O&M) are set up. These models help monitor equipment in real-time and anticipate the abnormal status of equipment to implement predictive maintenance, reduce O&M costs, and mitigate the risks of unplanned downtime.

At present, these four pilot smart factories report remarkable results, and constitute Smart Factory 1.0 in Sinopec Group. In the four pilot smart factories, the utilization rate of advanced control technology increases to over 90 percent; the automated production data collection rate reaches over 90 percent; and all pollution sources are automatically monitored. Production optimization used to be performed on a few processes and in offline mode, but now it is extended to all processes and conducted in online (in-service) mode. All these improvements increase labor productivity by over 10 percent and contribute to better quality and higher efficiency.
ICT has brought tangible benefits to companies in the petroleum and petrochemical industry and helps them maximize Return On Investment (ROI). Key benefits include better production-to-consumption ratios, higher oil recovery rates, lower operating costs, higher labor productivity, and long-time stable running of equipment.

In April 2017, PCITC and Huawei jointly announced a smart manufacturing platform, which is not only the two parties’ first significant joint innovation since they inked strategic partnerships, but also the core part of Smart Factory 2.0 within the Sinopec Group. This platform has eight major capabilities: Centralized integration, IoT access, IT management and control, optimization, shared services, data processing and analysis, and AI. The platform will become a ‘benchmarking operating system’ for smart manufacturing. This smart manufacturing platform also has integrated new ICT technologies such as cloud computing, the IoT, Big Data, Virtual Reality (VR), and machine learning. It is expected to become an industry-leading smart manufacturing platform in the process-centric industry.

This AI-capable platform helps institutionalize rules, models, and knowledge, and creates a ‘smart brain’ for petrochemical plants using deeply learning and reasoning data."

Reported Results

Pilot; results not yet available




Field Services


"China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group) is China’s largest integrated energy and chemical enterprise. It ranked No. 3 on the 2017 Global Fortune 500 list. In 2013, Sinopec Group started its smart plant initiatives and selected its Yanshan, Maoming, Zhenhai, and Jiujiang companies as pilot smart factories."



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