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SMART Collaborates with IBM to Future-Proof its Manufacturing Operations with AI-Driven Automation
May 4, 2021 News


SMART Modular Technologies (SMART), a global leader of speciality memory and storage solutions manufacturing in Malaysia, announced a collaboration 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. SMART’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 leads to production delays.

IBM Maximo Visual Inspection helps to identify and isolate defective semiconductor 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 recognise potential faults in each product line. This clearly demonstrates how AI can be flexibly applied to make automation work in complex environments. 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. A highly digitised manufacturing operation is instrumental in enabling us to be highly productive, boost efficiency and product quality as well as collaborate with an upskilled workforce. 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.

“IBM is proud to work with SMART on their digital transformation journey to accelerate the pace of innovation across high value-added manufacturing,” said Catherine Lian, Managing Director of IBM Malaysia. “With IBM Maximo Visual Inspection capabilities, we are bringing a new set of intelligent eyes and automation to the manufacturing floor to enable SMART to maximise production output while minimising cost and defects.”

SMART receives all the requisite tools and training from IBM to adopt and utilise the emerging technologies and excel in their industry through a series of enablement and design thinking workshops on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Hybrid Cloud and IoT. IBM believes in providing the resources and skills customers need to acquire unmatched expertise in their field to give them the competitive advantage to thrive in the digital era.

“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. The collaboration between SMART Modular and IBM clearly supports the country’s agenda to be the Digital Manufacturing Hub as manufacturing is a core driver of economic growth for Malaysia, contributing about 23.6% to Malaysia’s GDP in 2020,” Lian said.

IBM is committed as a trusted technology partner in designing and deploying transformative technologies that can help Malaysian organisations leapfrog on a global scale efficiently and sustainably.

Maximo Visual Inspection Mobile simplifies the process of training, deploying, running and managing computer vision models by leveraging the capabilities of compatible devices. This enables highly efficient and accurate visual inspection.