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為客戶創造價值 以智慧製造強化競爭力 (2017-08-30 IEK產業情報網 )

The 2017 Taipei International Machine Tool Show (TIMTOS) was held in early March. It was the occasion for the domestic precision machinery industry to showcase their competence. The theme of the show was “Industry 4.0 and smart production,” which combines Taiwan’s advantages in the ICT industry in order to accelerate the pace towards smart manufacturing and establish the differentiation of Taiwan’s tool and machinery industry.
Transformation of manufacturing led by smart manufacturing is imperative. “Smart manufacturing” involves the combination of technologies, knowledge, information, ideas and creativity, and developing and applying the manufacturing wisdom. Compared to the traditional manufacturing system, which relies on manual execution in capturing, recording and analyzing data and takes a long time to accumulate knowledge and wisdom, smart manufacturing is able to assist enterprises more effectively with the help of various sensing and ICT technologies, IoTs, cloud storage and big data analysis.
Especially for enterprises in the manufacturing field, the development and application of smart manufacturing aims to continue to meet the demands of clients and enhance competitiveness. The process of strengthening the competitiveness of enterprises can be divided into three stages. The first stage is data integration between factories and enterprises to improve production efficiency, reduce costs, enhance the safety of the production process and reduce the impact on the environment. The second stage is the establishment of manufacturing wisdom through production optimization and the creation of reliable manufacturing wisdom through computer simulation and process modeling to meet the demands for customization, variety and speed. The third stage is to create unique competitive advantages through manufacturing wisdom and enhance innovation capacity in processes and products. Since Germany’s initial proposal, Industry 4.0 has taken the world by storm. Manufacturing giants, such as Robert Bosch GmbH and Cisco Systems have invested heavily in IoTs and smart factory strategies. Among which, Bosch Rexroth (part of the Bosch Group) displayed a modular production system in the Hannover Messe in 2016. The system used a modular box-like workstation architecture, which allows manufacturers to quickly build flexible production lines capable of manufacturing, testing and assembly (both automatic and manual) based on their needs.
Moreover, the smart hydraulic valve production line set up by Bosch Rexroth in the Hamburg factory includes three important system functions: a production information board, RFID production control and self-adaptive workbenches. The production lines and product status and inventory in the MES/ERP system can be timely reflected on the production information board; the production line management personnel can also adjust the production lines through the production information board and confirm production specifications by RFID to make the production lines more flexible in the production process. In addition, data between operators and workbenches are automatically connected by Bluetooth. The workbenches automatically adjust their height while panels display language, font size and information based on the characteristics of operators (height and nationality). The application of self-adaptive workbenches can enhance personnel work efficiency and equipment operation safety.
According to Bosch’s analysis, the new smart production line can increase the overall productivity by 10%, reduce inventory by 30% and create several specific benefits: the range of products that can be handled by a single production line has increased from 3~5 types to 25 types; the products that originally required 6 production lines can now be produced by just one new production line; the production line adjustment time due to change of product specification has been reduced from 5~30 minutes to nearly zero; and the component inventory has been reduced from 2 days to 1 day. The efficiency improvement is very significant.
In practice, smart manufacturing application is divided into smart factory, virtual factory and digital factory, based on the degree of integration of software and hardware. The smart factory enhances productivity by improvement of manufacturing process control and optimization. The virtual factory manages production bases and suppliers in different places through links between software/hardware and systems, and increases added-value and supply chain productivity through product and service integration. The digital factory applies virtual processing design software, which allows users to “see” and “understand” products through the software system before actual manufacturing to improve design productivity so that the product design schedule and development costs can be reduced.
The specific application of the smart manufacturing and production system is as follows:
  • Use of digital manufacturing for new product designs, including computer-aided design, analysis, manufacturing, rapid prototyping (e.g., 3D printing of prototypes), process design, simulation, analysis and optimization. The process also involves the establishment of a knowledge base and application of VR human-machine interface. Siemens uses the digital manufacturing system to assist Maserati in shortening the time required between R&D and mass production from several years to 18 months.
  • Extensive use of smart machine tools, robots and automation equipment in component processing, testing, module and product assembly, movement of components, semi-finished products and finished products or replacement of large molds and fixtures/jigs. Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has used industrial robots and information systems to assist the Hocheng Corporation (HCG) in reducing the grinding time on their plumbing products from 10 minutes to 4.5 minutes and achieving a more stable quality.
  • Use of sensing components to gather data and create a database for manufacturing equipment, peripheral devices and even components or products in the smart factories, and then support manufacturing and execute system operations based on the database. The smart automatic automotive aluminum ring production line developed by Far East Machinery is capable of mixed production of aluminum wheel rims of different shapes and specifications. The precision of the key dimensional information can be timely displayed digitally through the automatic virtual measurement system and visual measurement system after the wheel rim is processed. The data will be sent back to the machine immediately for the quality control or tool correction for the next rim.
  • Cooperation with the smart logistics system. The smart factory also works with the smart logistics system for the delivery of raw materials, components and products.
  • Use of big data analysis for value-adding and innovation. Use of IoTs to connect information and manufacturing equipment in the course of manufacturing, and the use of a cloud database, computation and big data analysis to achieve value-added manufacturing and innovative business models.
When the price-performance ratio is no longer the only strategy for Taiwan to build competitive advantages in the market, Taiwan’s machinery industry needs to actively think about the development direction of technologies, products, systems and services from the perspective of “creating value for customers.” In other words, Taiwan’s manufacturing enterprises need to plan effective methods for the development of smart manufacturing solutions, and strengthen their competitiveness through smart manufacturing application.
For Taiwan’s machinery industry, in addition to the traditional manufacturing equipment, the use of smart robots that can work with humans, Industrial IoTs, cloud computation platforms, big data analysis, machine learning, additive manufacturing (or 3D printing), augmented reality, network security, digital design and simulation are important technologies that can help downstream customers realize smart manufacturing. Therefore, we suggest that Taiwan’s machinery industry should continue to work on R&D and interdisciplinary integration in the aforementioned fields, and develop a smart machinery industry and economic benefits through diverse innovative business models.

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