The Taipei International Industrial Automation Exhibition 2018 (or Automation Taipei 2018 for short) is the number one automation show in Taiwan. It officially ran from August 1-4 at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center. With hot topics like IIoT, AI, and smart factories, this show expanded its scope with an exhibition space as large as five-and-a-half football fields, more than 800 exhibitors and a total of 130,000 visitors.
We saw the world’s top 20 industrial robot vendors gathered at the show, led by ABB, Kuka, Yaskawa, and Fanuc, presenting outstanding world-class robots and automatic guided vehicle (AGV) solutions.
It’s time for cooperative effort and alliances
Unlike Advantech or Ennoconn who are big enough to provide total solutions with combined hardware and software for vertical markets, Tier 2 and Tier 3 IPC players can’t bank on only providing hardware product lines. In today’s market, they need to engage with software vendors as alliance partners with each party focusing on their strengths and maximizing the synergistic effect.
Vecow debuted its first workstation-grade fanless system with MXM NVIDIA GPU card, targeting robot control, machine learning and simulator training. They allied with their software partner SMA SOFT to provide a high-speed AI inspection solution, integrating robot arms, motors, and visual inspection as a real-time management portal.
MOXA has long been a well-known vendor in the automation market. At their booth, they presented their collaboration with start-up software company thingnario, bringing AI into their solar application. With a self-developed AI engine integrated into MOXA’s gateway, the solution gathers time-series data (solar radiance data stream, solar power production, and meteorological data) from different geo-photovoltaic power stations. With heterogeneous and multitasking learning, AI optimizes the PV energy output to enable solar power predictions. Such an innovative and niche solution!
I bet you’ve seen the terms ‘Industry 4.0’ and ‘fourth industrial revolution’ millions of times. Are they just buzz words? No, it’s all about process optimization. Neousys Technology steps ahead, working with POME to provide consulting services to analyze the process. With current demands for small-volume, large-variety production, the critical winning points are who can reduce line change over time to improve efficiency, as well as who can build cloud-based expertise. This will determine who will win the market. Neousys is no longer just a “gateway” company.
A new breakthrough
NexCOBOT, a NEXCOM subsidiary, has devoted themselves to the robot business, providing a total solution for intelligent robot control. NexMotion is a complete EtherCAT-based motion control solution, including EtherCAT master controllers, motion controllers, CNC controllers, EtherCAT slave modules, and even EtherCAT slave chips. Partnering with Boise State University, NexCOBOT will integrate robotics education into their engineering curriculum. We should give them a big round of applause for investing numerous resources into gathering the know-how and designing the products needed to solidify their position in the robotics business. Entering the AI era, whoever has the vertical know-how will win the markets.
The most stunning thing I saw at the show was Lanner’s entry into such a highly competitive market. Lanner is a leadingIPC vendor of networking security appliances. Their new edge consolidation solution, SilosBreaker, integrates multicore processors and visualization software to optimize the hardware server. This is Lanner’s true strength and they intend to bring Intel Xeon processor-based servers into smart manufacturing that streamline real-time performance to handle the workload for machine vision, motion control, and AI. I expect Lanner’s solution to be very competitive.
Future expectations of the event host company
At Automation Taipei 2018, I saw vendors trying hard to present their own solutions but I didn’t see any demos of the Industry 4.0 concept. Overall, the exhibition was rich with R&D from Taiwan and has promise for international buyers in the future as an opportunity for vendors to show off their vision for the new era of smart factories.