Taiwan’s economics ministry has released a set of blueprints for promoting the development of smart machinery, seeking to make the country the world’s research and manufacturing center for intelligent machinery and related high-end equipment parts and components by integrating domestic precision machinery manufacturing and advanced ITC technologies.
Based on the blueprints, the government hopes to build a comprehensive smart machinery industry ecosystem and incorporate smart machinery into various industries to achieve smart manufacturing, thus driving the overall upgrades and transformations of domestic industries, ministry sources said.
Among the government-designated 5+2 Innovative Industries given priority development, smart machinery is defined as machinery that can integrate robots, IoT, big data, cyber-physical systems, lean management, and 3D printing or sensors, according to CC Yang, deputy director general of Industrial Development Bureau (IDB). Yang said the government plans to set up a global smart machinery development center in Taichung, central Taiwan, where machine tool makers are clustered.
Multi-tasking smart production line
Under the blueprints, Yang stressed, Taiwan’s machinery industry will first manage to build a multi-purpose smart production line that can simultaneously handle production of nine parts and components by incorporating such advanced technologies as smart robotic arms, cloud, IoT, information visualization, simulative analysis, AI (artificial intelligence), and more, to provide quick sampling and trial production, with all the software, systems and equipment to be sourced domestically. And then similar production lines will be gradually applied to cross-industry manufacturing operations to achieve comprehensive smart manufacturing.
Yang continued that the government will help small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) incorporate digital production systems into their plants by offering them systematic solutions through smart machine boxes (SMB) and national IoT platform (NIP).
He disclosed that the IDB will subsidize the installation of 1,000 SMBs at selected SMEs in 2018 to help them experience the upgrade of production efficiency, with the number of such devices to be applied to 9,000 machines in the next few years.
Annual output exceeds NT$1 trillion
The implementation of the blueprints is expected to significantly bolster the overall performances of Taiwan’s machinery industry, Yang said. He cited statistics from Taiwan Association of Machinery Industry (TAMI) as indicating that the country’s annual machinery production value already broke the NT$1 trillion (US$34.20 billion) level to hit NT$1.1 trillion in 2017, for an annual increase of 11.1%, with the total number of employees approaching 310,000. In the first 10 months of 2017, Taiwan took fourth place in the global machine tool export ranking, up one notch from a year earlier.
Yang also cited tallies as showing that Taiwan makers made total investments of NT$53.887 billion in developing smart machinery equipment in 2017, including NT$3.83 billion from Delta Electronics in developing 6-axis robot arms, NT$2.4 billion from Chunghwa Precision Test Tech in developing probe card fixtures, and NT$3.5 billion from Victor Taichung Machinery Works in building smart machinery integrated manufacturing plant.