SMART Turns To IBM For Automation And Future Proofing Its Manufacturing Plant

SMART Modular Technologies (SMART) is collaborating with IBM to transform its operations into a cutting-edge manufacturing facility and lead in the Industry 4.0 agenda.

SMART will deploy IBM Maximo Visual Inspection integrated with AI-powered collaborative robots (COBOTS) to develop innovative manufacturing solutions while empowering its workforce with the latest technology skills.

SMART’s memory components are embedded in systems that face some of the most demanding physical conditions from military and aviation to outer space applications where extreme quality is a truly critical performance benchmark.

The company’s inspectors examine memory chips under a microscope for defects such as cracked solder joints, damaged components, or any other kinds of defects in a traditional manufacturing process environment.

These manual inspections require highly specialised experts and are time consuming. The prolonged process in turn lead to production delays. 

IBM Maximo Visual Inspection helps to identify and isolate defective semi-conductor components before they ripple into the next stage of processing, bringing quality control automation to SMART’s manufacturing process.

 Visual Inspection includes an intuitive toolset that empowers SMART’s quality engineers to label, train, and deploy deep learning vision models.

This is done without coding or deep learning expertise and is aligned with the global IPC610 standard for inspecting printed circuit boards, teaching the system to recognize potential faults in each product line.

When one of the AI-powered robots identifies a defective product, it automatically sets it aside into a “no good tray” so quality control specialists can carry out a more detailed inspection.

The solution will help SMART reduce inspection time, provide extreme consistency in detecting defects, improve quality and reserve human expertise for value-added tasks.

Commenting on the collaboration, Vejay Kumar, General Manager of SMART said, “We are delighted to work with IBM to enable us to continue transforming and innovating our operations as we are gearing up the implementation of Industry 4.0 to future-proof our businesses. We expect the automated inspection process will help increase our production yield by 10%, while increasing overall production throughput by 20%.”

SMART’s manufacturing operations in Penang, Malaysia is the key supply chain operations centre for the voracious Asia electronics market as well as the centre of excellence for transformative product manufacturing for their global business.

“Manufacturing is becoming increasingly more efficient, modular, and automated.  To reach its full potential, it is imperative for the industry to continue to embark on futureproofing measures by incorporating Industry 4.0 technologies in their digital transformation. For many end users, autonomous operation is the destination to achieve their smart manufacturing goals,” IBM Malaysia’s Managing Director, Catherine Lian said.

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