Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the current situation of China's local valve industry, the maturity of intelligent manufacturing and the way to promote intellectual development. Design/methodology/approach: Firstly, a macro analysis of the valve market environment from the domestic and international perspective was conducted. Secondly, online surveys and in-depth interviews were administered to understand the current status of IM development and future development goals. Finally, case studies were conducted to demonstrate whether the hypothesis of the development approach is feasible. Findings: This study finds that the overall maturity level of the local valve industry is still in the planning stage since the local valve industry lacks concentration and is relatively scattered. In addition, the feasible development approach is dependent on smart devices to improve production efficiency, ensure quality management and effectively control costs. Research limitations/implications: The research is conducted and focused on the Yangtze River Delta region instead of the whole country, and the size of the sample is small. Therefore, there may be some characteristics omitted in the analysis. Practical implications: Manufacturers can upgrade to smart manufacturing through intelligent software platforms in order to complete an automatic interaction of data and devices. In addition, manufacturers should complete cross-regional collaborative development through the industrial Internet of things. Originality/value: There is little or none of research work completed for the development strategy of the valve industry internationally. Therefore, research findings of this area can provide a fundamental understanding of China's local valve industry and contribute to the existing knowledge.