While data harvesting from machine processes is a major component of the push to digitise the modern factory shop floor, PowerArena’s focus on using AI in smart manufacturing has settled upon a lesser-explored side of the equation – the factory’s human assets.
“On the automation side, machines can output data all the time but now we’re looking at how we can use data on a heavily human intensive production,” says co-founder Hauman Chow.
For most companies, factory workers, be they production-line workers or more skilled engineers and operators, remain an integral part of the manufacturing process, but modern automation can, and does, lead to a reduced human presence on the factory floor. For PowerArena, however, the assembly line workers are another component of the overall process that can be monitored and analysed to streamline systems.
With a client base of some of the most prominent and successful players in the electronic manufacturing services (EMS) industry, the company’s systems are improving complex, multi-step production lines, and even the smallest tweak can lead to greater efficiencies and cost savings.
By making intelligent cameras that are capable of recognising and flagging patterns and inefficiencies, PowerArena enables their clients to constantly monitor and analyse their production lines and tweak the processes to enable a more efficient work environment.
“It’s not a problem of the workers, they’re not lazy, it’s about the design of the line,” he says.
He says that the key is the volume of data that their system can digest and analyse. “The old way to help industry engineers do improvement is, they only look at the line for 15 minutes per station, but what we do is look at every single station with a camera and we get 100% detailed data, it’s real time and of course it’s unbiased,” says Chow. Once the data is collected and fed to PowerArena’s AI, it is uploaded to a dashboard so that the teams in factories can see it real time.
“I think our solution is, on one hand, to enhance the worker experience, if the line is well designed, they don’t have to do a lot of work to produce the end product and then can get more rewards for it,” Chow says. “Then also our solution is to help factories to tailor the way that their lines work.”
He says that PowerArena’s offerings are simply one tool in a toolbox of solutions available to improve a factory’s efficiency and output.
“In order to achieve 4.0 there are many things involved, our product is one of the things that can help achieve that dream. When we talk about Industry 4.0, I would say 80% are still 2.5 only, they are slowly evolving. We are part of the tools to push it to 4.0.”
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