The six steps to becoming a truly smart production facility
This article is based on an interview undertaken by FusionMedium’s technology online media, TechOrange, and published with permission:
With the arrival of Industry 4.0, factories need to be smart to keep up with the times. Business owners require a significant amount of technical data to effectively estimate changes in production capacity as well as monitor the status of mechanized and automated operations.
ASUS has started a long and rigorous transformation process in the face of increasingly fierce competition on a global scale. From the outset, ASUS upgraded its own smart manufacturing and recast the brand. It then followed with the launch of the intelligent cloud services platform Taiwan Web Service Corporation (TWS), transitioning the firm into a fully cloud-native public cloud services provider. Later, ASUS made the security around the cloud information more robust and continued to focus on AI, 5G, and blockchain to benefit from the synergies of technology and business.
ASUS invested in several new technologies and processes with an eye to developing advanced manufacturing capabilities, and participated in the AI on Chip Industrial Cooperation Strategic Alliance promoted by the Smart Electronics Industry Product Promotion Office (SIPO) of the Industrial Development Bureau, in a move to further its commitment to the development of AI on Chip core areas and increasing the visibility and competitiveness of Taiwan’s related industries in the international arena.
6 processes + 2 phases designed to make the factory really smart
Winson Lu, director of AI Solution BU of AIoT BG at ASUS, noted that in the first instance, the factory must become fully computerized and connected so as to be in a position to collect all the information in connection with the operation of all equipment.
The six important processes took place in two development phases. In the first phase – Smart Factory 1.0, ASUS established a complete infrastructure, collecting equipment information and building a new database, providing a foundation for the data analysis in the next phase – Smart Factory 2.0.
ASUS incorporated the equipment control and the site management layers into the central monitoring and management platform, unifying factory big data and creating visualization models. Real-time data and information analysis, such as production, quality, and labor indicators, as well as production expenditure costs, can be monitored by the factory information center, allowing senior managers to make operational and managerial decisions in real-time.
In addition to the central monitoring and management platform, AR glasses, automated unmanned handling systems, and AI defect detection systems also served as important tools to significantly enhance production efficiency.
New technologies alongside the central system drive up efficiency across the whole of the factory
Winson Lu said that AR glasses can be quite useful in three scenarios: remote collaboration, information data display, and material identification/shipment confirmation. Once a worker puts on the AR glasses, not only is a plethora of information about the factory displayed in front of the worker’s line of vision but he or she can collaborate remotely by transmitting information about the situation on-site to remote personnel immediately.
As the pandemic ravaged the world, AR glasses could be described as the savior of many large factories. During the extensive lockdown period, equipment experts could not fly to Taiwan nor could they enter the factory to maintain equipment.
The AR glasses presented a solution. Even if the equipment expert is on the other side of the globe, as long as the factory personnel donned the AR glasses and turned on the camera function, they can let the remote expert see for himself the status of any piece of equipment through the AR view feature and then assist the field personnel to repair and maintain the equipment, so that the factory could quickly return to normal operation.
In the solution developed by ASUS, as soon as the manufacturing execution system assigns the work order, the smart storage system will start to prepare the materials and notify the automated unmanned handling system to collect them, achieving a fully automated process. This reduces manpower demand and human error on site, improves the efficiency of material handling, and shortens the time needed to switch processing jobs.
ASUS also developed an AI defect detection system. During the production process, defective components can be detected to effectively reduce time lost and scrap rates.
In the era of Industry 4.0, the smart factory equipped with a central monitoring platform and various new technological devices has become a key part of manufacturing. Yet even more advances are in the offing with digital twins, machine learning, and a wide range of AI solutions, all of which will optimize the existing solution and make the factory ever smarter.