Covering Disruptive Technology Powering Business in The Digital Age

Home > DTA news > News > SMART partners with IBM Malaysia to transform its manufacturing for Industry 4.0
SMART partners with IBM Malaysia to transform its manufacturing for Industry 4.0


Smart Modular Technologies Sdn Bhd announced it is enabling robots with artificial intelligence in its manufacturing process to lead in Industry 4.0 in Penang

SMART Modular Technologies Sdn Bhd (SMART), a leading supplier of specialty memory, and storage solutions manufacturer, today announced that it is collaborating with IBM to transform its manufacturing operations to meet the demands of the ever evolving technology landscape.

SMART, which is headquartered in Newark, California (USA), relies on its Malaysian manufacturing operations in Penang to be not only a key supply chain location for the insatiable Asian electronics market, but also as an example of  transformative product manufacturing for the global business.

As the third largest economy in South East Asia, Malaysia’s GDP relies heavily on high tech manufacturing. A 2019 IDC report estimates that digital transformation would potentially add an additional US$10 billion to Malaysia’s economy by 2021.

Digital Malaysia, the Government’s economic development program to position Malaysia as a leading digital economy player, encourages manufacturers to leverage new manufacturing tools and skills, to reap the economic benefits of the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), which is characterised by automation and artificial intelligence through machine learning.

While the industrial revolutions before this were often described as making seismic changes to the economy, the fourth emphasizes the need to take human error out of the equation because potential defect in what is now manufactured is not discernible to a person.

In working with IBM Services in Malaysia, SMART is upgrading its Penang operations to be a cutting-edge facility boasting Industry 4.0 manufacturing processes, including both the deployment of new AI-powered capabilities as well as re-skilling its workforce. This will enable SMART’s Malaysian operations to use collaborative robots(COBOTS) powered by IBM PowerAI Vision. So when the product reaches end of the line before it is boxed and  shipped, the collaborative robots are able to spot defects and remove it from the production line.

IBM PowerAI Vision includes an intuitive toolset that empowers subject matter experts to label, train, and deploy deep learning vision models, without coding or deep learning expertise.

“We believe SMART’s manufacturing upgrade investments embodies the Malaysian government’s vision for a Digital Economy, by adopting agile, innovative and game changing technologies to prepare for Industry 4.0,” said SMART Global Holdings Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer, Mr Jack Pacheco.

Mr Pacheco said: “Our vision of a highly digitized and connected manufacturing operations is possible through factory automation which was  instrumental in enabling our operations to be highly productive and efficient with a pool of upskilled workforce to compete in Industry 4.0. We’re pleased to work with IBM Malaysia on this initiative , bringing their AI capabilities and digital transformation skills to our team in Penang, and we’re proud to be doing our part to bring Digital Malaysia to life with our manufacturing facility investments.”

The first phase of SMART’s IBM engagement included the delivery of IBM Enterprise Design Thinking workshops to identify new opportunities in the manufacturing process, including the introduction of automation.The second phase of SMART’s IBM engagement is focused on continued factory automation and is currently in progress.

To support SMART’s move to Industry 4.0 practices IBM developed and trained artificial intelligence-enabled, collaborative robots. By deploying COBOTS, SMART will be able run test stations on the manufacturing floor to automate and improve testing capabilities.

“The collaborative robot and autonomous product testing would be the way of life in SMART’s operations,” said Mr Jack Pacheco, adding that factory automation is expected to improve yields and increase throughput.

In parallel with factory automation, IBM has also consulted with SMART to conceive and launch a new skills program to upskill and reskill its workforce with new capabilities and expertise aligned to key Industry 4.0 needs such as AI, manufacturing services integration, and data analytics.

“The dawn of Industry 4.0 has compelled key industries such as manufacturing to tap into disruptive technologies to transform their operations and equip their workforce with skills of the future,” said Ms Catherine Lian, Managing Director, IBM Malaysia.  “We see this collaboration between SMART and IBM as a step forward for the  manufacturing sector and we are committed as a trusted advisor to enable our client throughout the transformation journey.”