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Unleashing the Power of Smart Manufacturing with iFactory/OEE


In the era of Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing has emerged as a crucial driver of global industrial transformation, presenting a new frontier of opportunities. In Taiwan, the Executive Yuan’s initiatives aimed at supporting the adoption of smart technologies and promoting sustainable business models are poised to revolutionize the manufacturing sector. 

However, a recent survey conducted by DIGITIMES on Taiwan’s smart manufacturing landscape reveals that many manufacturers have yet to fully embrace emerging technologies. Among the various solutions, IoT solutions are the most deployed type of emerging technology, accounting for 23% of deployments, with big data analysis at 25%, and data visualization and digital decision-making systems at 27%.

Guo-min Liao, General Manager of Chur, highlighted the evolving perception of Industry 4.0 among customers since their partnership with Advantech began approximately seven years ago. Initially, the prevalent belief was that Industry 4.0 solely entailed the interconnectivity of machines. However, in the past three years, Taiwanese manufacturers have gained a deeper understanding of digital transformation. Chur, in its commitment to facilitating this transformation, offers Advantech iFactory solutions such as OEE and EHS, effectively addressing production, management, and sustainability challenges while paving the way for Industry 4.0 implementation.

Partnership leveraging digital transformation expertise and bridges technologies 

Driven by a digital transformation mandate from its headquarters in Japan, a Japanese owned leading manufacturer of polarizer films, transparent conductive films, optical protective films, and optical transparent adhesives, turned to Chur to implement an OEE solution. Recognizing the superiority, stability, convenience, and functionality of Advantech products compared to other industry offerings, the manufacturer holds a highly favorable impression of Chur’s solution, which leverages Advantech products and the expertise of digital transformation consultant, Des Technology.

Prior to implementing the OEE solution, the manufacturer relied solely on management software to assist with production scheduling and the production processes. However, this approach posed challenges in obtaining real-time information on production and machine performance. The production line staff had to manually record production capacity and failure numbers, resulting in delays in reporting abnormalities to production supervisors. 

Consequently, supervisors often received these reports too late to take corrective action and improve production capacity or control failure rates for specific batches.

In the first phase of the project, data collection from production machines for day-to-day operations was carried out by connecting PLC units from one production line to Advantech’s ECU-1051 RISC-based industrial communication gateway. This setup served as a proof of concept for data collection and conversion to the MQTT protocol. It effectively enabled data to be transmitted to iFactory/OEE for visualization and statistical analysis applications to gain valuable insights.

System integration to bridge the gap between domain requirements and Advantech’s solutions

In recent years, Advantech has leveraged its extensive industry knowledge to deliver integrated solutions encompassing computing platforms and industry-specific software applications. The OEE or EHS solution offers a comprehensive range of functions, meeting 70% of the industry’s requirements. This includes data visualization dashboards and utilization rate calculations. Mr. Liao commented that as an Industry 4.0 system integrator, Chur addresses the remaining 30% of the optical product manufacturer’s needs through tailored customization and value-added services. 

These services include production management consultancy from Chur’s partner and the creation of customized dashboards and reports that cater to the manufacturer’s unique requirements. By leveraging Chur’s integration flexibility, Advantech products, and the Des Technology’s expertise, the team provides superior service to address the genuine requirements in a more efficient and timely manner. Other solution providers, however, would be unable to fill the gap between domain requirements and their solutions.

In this project, the primary objective was to facilitate connectivity between production work orders, production output, and abnormal conditions. For instance, consider a scenario where the original machine parameters dictate an air pressure of X kg to generate tension. However, as the equipment ages, the actual tension decreases, leading to an increase in defect rates the number of broken films.

To address this issue, the OEE solution plays a crucial role in swiftly gathering information on each batch that may encounter similar circumstances. By utilizing Chur’s tailored solution, customers can promptly identify common factors contributing to abnormal situations, enabling the analysis of the root cause of high defect rates or factors hindering improvements in output and utilization rates. Once the system reaches a certain level of adjustment, the second phase will involve gradual deployment for all production lines in a factory. This process will also include introducing other applications such as iFactory/Maintenance and MES.

In the past, completing a project could take up to a year. However, thanks to our collaboration with Advantech and the utilization of their iFactory Solution Ready Packages, we have successfully met our customers’ expectations in terms of rapid project deployment and the ability to customize solutions,” Mr. Liao concluded. Moving forward, Chur aims to further specialize in specific industries, leveraging their expertise to provide valuable insights to Advantech. This collaboration will enable Advantech to refine their products and specifications, ensuring they are better aligned with the unique needs of specific industries.

Solution and Benefits 

For system integrators, iFactory SRP leverages Advantech’s extensive industry knowledge to deliver integrated solutions that encompass computing platforms and industry-specific software applications, expediting project development and providing a cost-effective approach to help manufacturers meet Industry 4.0 requirements.