The term Industry 4.0 covers the concepts of “smart factory”, which has been the buzzword for the manufacturing sector over the past few years. In fact, there is an increasing number of manufacturers deploying computer vision, motion control, and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to improve production efficiency. However, there are deployment challenges since real-life applications are rarely simple.
The challenges and difficulty in the implementation of Industry 4.0 can be categorized in two aspects. First, once an enterprise decides to deploy 4 automated production systems, like computer vision, motion control, SCADA, and AI, there is a long process in the purchase order, because it involves the purchase and installation of independent, proprietary computing equipments for each of the mentioned systems. It means the enterprise has to go through multiple negotiations for price and warranty contracts, because each system is a vendor-specific, locked-in software and hardware package. It will make management and maintenance of the new systems very difficult and costly.
On the other hand, there is still a considerable number of factories using machines decades ago. Despite the semi-automatic nature, the existing programs are still stable. But if the factory owners decide to implement new systems, they will have to purchase new equipments, rebuild the production line, and re-train their assembly staff. All these will make Industry 4.0 unreachable for its costs and efforts.”
Virtualized Architecture to Integrate New Functionality
The challenge and difficulty to launch Industry 4.0 should be done by “Software-Define Everything” approach, commonly used in mainstream network security vendors. In the mean time, Lanner leverages the creativeness from the concept of “App Store” to realize IoT applications and develop Edge Consolidation Server (ECS) Platform.
Conventionally, the reason why enterprises are faced with the challenge of purchasing 4 different computing facilities is because the current market is mainly supplied by dedicated proprietary systems with vendor-specific, locked-in software and hardware packages. However, with the deployment of Lanner ECS platform, enterprises just implement a single server to execute multiple VM (Virtual Machines), and each VM will perform computer vision, motion control, SCADA and AI. The Lanner ECS architecture will greatly reduce the cost and simplify the management and maintenance, thanks to the software-hardware decoupling.
As mentioned, Lanner leverages the concept of App Store into ECS system design to create EaGoi eco-system with multiple leading vendors from our from computer vision, motion control, AI and SCADA, so that users can make their selection. For example, if user initially chooses Vendor A’s motion control but find it not as dynamic as expected, then Vendor B’s system can be selected. All these can be done by VM, and enterprises can stay with Lanner ECS platform
Regarding another situation, which involves the upgrade of existing machines, users may take the Ghost approach to clone the whole program package onto the VM layer of the ECS platform, without spending efforts on the source codes. Besides, users can add extra VMs on the platform, like computer vision or AI deep learning, to enable fully automated production, a great upgrade from the conventional, semi-automated approach.
Take PCB manufacturing for example. Once PCB and components are prepared and DIP is done, the rest of the procedure will be processed by semi-automated facilities, like wave soldering by tin stove. However, afterwards, human labors are still required to confirm if these is no defect or anomaly, before processing with cutting and additional soldering. Now, enterprises can implement Ghost approach to clone the semi-automated program for tin stove and upload it to ECS VM as a new VM. This is where computer vision comes in to replace inspection by physical labor. Eventually, the whole assembly line will become fully automated. This is a potential scenario that Lanner ECS platform can be used for smart factory.
The use of App Store concept in EaGoi allows users to stay with ECS platform without replacing the hardware. All other functionality, like computer vision, motion control, SCADA, AI or security, can be supplied by vendors. Thus, enterprises are totally liberated from proprietary hardware.