by Pei-Syuan Lai
The manufacturing industry has played an important role in Taiwan’s economic development. With the change of the domestic economy and political situation, plus the rapid development of science and technology, it is crucial that new technologies such as AI and big data bring creativity into the manufacturing industry and transform traditional factories, so that product added value can be increased.
Challenges for Traditional Manufacturing and Factories
A major challenge that traditional factories face is the lack of systematic planning and integration of area, plants, personnel, equipment and production lines. Although machines have been integrated into the production lines to replace part of the manpower, human operators are still required to be in charge of data analysis and personnel scheduling.
For manual computation and collection of production data from equipment, the efficiency and accuracy are rather low. The challenge lies in saving huge amounts of data; in addition, the data timeliness decreases, if data collection is not updated in time.
Industry 4.0- Technology Integrated into Manufacturing
Industry 4.0, also known as “Productivity 4.0,” often comes together with ideas, such as automation, intelligence, comprehensive networking, and increased productivity, etc. It refers to the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) to achieve mass production, automation, flexibility, self-optimization, increased production, and lower production costs.
Industry 4.0 features a smart system with sensors and IoT. In addition to the High-Tech Strategy 2020 Action Plan included in Germany’s 10 “Future Projects,” Industry 4.0 has also been one of the key development goals in the United States. The target is to solve problems in traditional factories through new technology.
A New Era for Smart Factory
Industry 4.0 is also related to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which integrates information technology and operation systems. A perfect example of the two together is a smart factory. Smart factories make use of the Internet to connect machine automation sensors, equipment, power and other infrastructures with separate management systems. Manufacturing Execution System (MES) integrates and analyzes data collected to show the factory’s real-time production status.
As China and Southeast Asian countries are on the rise and the cost of labor is lower, Taiwan’s traditional manufacturing requires transformation, and Industry 4.0 and smart factories can be solutions. It is expected that Taiwan’s manufacturing industry can adopt modern technology to address challenges faced and turn over a new leaf in the industry.