Can you tell us a bit about Advantech and its vision for the future?
Advantech is a leading brand in IoT intelligent systems, Industry 4.0, machine automation, embedded computing, embedded systems and many other core sectors which are at the heart of the American economy. Since our inception, we have believed in leading the world with innovation. Our corporate vision is simple – Enabling an Intelligent Planet and toward the US market we are keen is to bring manufacturing back to America with the most advanced automation solutions in the world.
It is unfortunate that today the US is no longer the manufacturing powerhouse in the world that it used to be. It is discovered that there are only 250,000 total manufacturers in the US and the total manufacturers in China today stand at 6 million and around 3 million are based in Europe. McKinsey Global Institute recently conducted research pointed out only 50% of US manufacturers have adopted digitalization. This is really unfortunate as the American manufacturers stand to gain over 500 Billion dollars in revenues if they invest in the future.
According to Mckinsey research, there are signs of trouble in current manufacturing are already here. For example, an average service period of US factory is over 25 years. Similarly, the average age of equipment is 9 years. Hence, employees and equipment are a constant investment for companies in an extremely competitive world of manufacturing. We believe automation led by Industry 4.0 can become a golden bridge between manufacturing and delivering world-class products.
How does Advantech go about implementing its vision?
With the advantages of Advantech devices and solutions, we make it possible for companies all over the world to realize the potential and revolution that is Industry 4.0. To realize Industry 4.0, Advantech partners with its clients through three strategic phases.
In the first phase of the implementation of equipment connectivity: devices, machines, production lines and factories are connected to a central system. Once this phase is implemented, executives could be sitting in an Air conditioned company headquarter in Chicago and get real time efficiency update on each machine from their manufacturing plant in India. So, in the first phase, we provide data transparency as well as information visualization which is central to connecting disjointed arms of our client companies.
In the second phase, data collection and integration, as well as value-added products and services are introduced for smart manufacturing services. For example, we have provided innovative automation solution for hospitals wherein nurses can simply voice the name of a patient as a code to open software locked medicine box to provide the patient with accurate medicines on time.
The final phase of intelligent innovative services is the enabling of intelligent machinery and big data analysis. In this phase, companies would truly realize the power of automation. Using the big data, companies can predict the failure rate of machines, products and build a true factory in the future which governs itself.
To reach these goals, Advantech enables network-connected iFactories and iMachinery to boost the transformation of smart manufacturing.
Could you talk briefly about one of your leading insight and solutions regarding the future IIoT World?
According to Dr. Allan Yang, Advantech’s Chief Technology Officer, IIoT solutions must be able to integrate the collection of industrial equipment data based on a variety of standards with edge device management, wireless communication, and data analysis. Such solutions must also integrate the creation of visually intuitive reports on cloud platforms as well as the creation of AI models and their integration with expert knowledge. Other key areas include compliance with data storage location and management regulations established by each country, corporate policy and the construction of stringent and trustworthy platforms and data security mechanisms. Since the professional technologies and knowledge required must come from different domains, the co-creation model is truly an effective and mutually beneficial model for realizing these outcomes.
Advantech uses a data-driven architecture incorporated with cloud platform service technologies as its core to create the WISE-PaaS industrial cloud platform. The platform can move across multiple clouds and it offers flexible expansion, multitenancy, superior reliability, multiple database services, AI model training and deployment framework services, visualization services for dashboards, and multi-level data security/management services. With the WISE-PaaS platform providing a foundation, Advantech and its co-creation partners will work together to rapidly deploy a range of IIoT solutions. By merging with the innovative industrial cloud service business model, the third wave of the digital revolution has officially kicked off to successfully transform our industries.
We are in the process of announcing the co-creation of IoT Solution Ready Packages (SRPs) which involves co creating with various domestic and international companies. Thirty sets of SRPs will be officially released this year. The key to success lies within platform technology suppliers, such as Advantech, as well as in working closely with industry professionals to integrate and form standardized and easily duplicated SRPs based on a combination of software and hardware products. These SRPs can then be installed by system integrators at the client site. Eventually, IIoT industry chains will be formed as SRPs become established as comprehensive field solutions.
What are your short-term business objectives?
We see an enormous opportunity to bring the American economy back on track. For us ‘Make America great again’ is not just a slogan but we want to do everything we can to bring manufacturing jobs and processes back to the country. However, we also aren’t simply limited in our vision of innovation by a single market. Our growth in America has been phenomenal including the consecutive robust growth we experienced last year and the year before that. We also lead innovation globally. Today, we have over 8,000 employees all over the world and our sales are also a reflection of our true strength. We are a Taiwan based company but only 7% of our sales are from Taiwan. We are in the top-league of companies in North America, however, we are relatively less known. Our biggest client base is based in leading manufacturing countries and continents on the globe including China and Europe.
How do your products help clients improve productivity and efficiency?
We are leading in the field of automation If you are a manufacturing company, you need to follow a few simple steps to remain competitive in the manufacturing world today.
The first step is automation – wherein you adapt the robot, adapt the equipment, avail video inspection equipment and this will help you to reduce manual resources.
The second step is to connect the machine to the cloud – real-time manufacturing status. Every machine is costly but by keeping track of machines, you can visualize the data.
The third step is using the sensors and technology to perfect the final product data. These machines can help you predict the future of your manufacturing potential.
We have implemented these steps in the manufacturing facilities of several clients and in our own plants well. We have documented proof that since 2016, our production value has increased by 16.9% and it has reduced energy consumption by 7.8%. Additionally, the innovative touch of automation has helped us increase the machine utilization in an average of 15%.
It is not difficult to understand why. Let’s say you have to finish the 1,000 by tonight and you only have finished 200. It informs the worker by a certain time and tells him to speed up. We have two factories. One in Kunshan and one in Taipei. Both our factories have become a world-class manufacturing plant within a short time frame. In summary, every machine costs anything between a million or ten so a simple 6.7% is worth its weight in gold in real manufacturing terms.
Where do you think the future of Automation is headed?
Because the technology is progressing day by day, in the future holds tremendous potential. For the applications of AI. In the future, we will be able to predict the failure time of the machine, the failure rate of products, after delivery and after consumption too. In the future, the IoT will help manufacturers connect to consumers. Once you deliver a machine, the customers will monitor the status of the machine and this will increase the value of machine to your consumers. With the integration of IoT, the machines will become more responsive in themselves and valuable as well.
We want to be at the forefront of this innovation when it takes the world of manufacturing by storm. We are a visionary company. Our vision is based on our insight into the social, technology and science. Hence, we can position ourselves at the forefront of the technical revolution. This is also the reason why we have become a trusted partner of our clients throughout our journey. We believe in delivering results. We believe in benefitting our clients.
What motivates you to go on every day?
We started the company a long time back when we were young and we have grown in maturity today. We as a team of founders have worked very hard to create a value for our customers and humankind alike. When we roll our sleeves to work today, we ask ourselves ‘How can we help the US manufacturing won the crown back?’. The answer is simple. If America wants to bring iPhone, vehicle manufacturing back to the US again, Industry 4.0 is the answer.
Source :-The 10 Most Disruptive Automation Companies to Watch 2018
Can you tell us a bit about Advantech and its vision for the future?