Stability has always been the highest design concern for manufacturing systems. In recent years, the concept of intelligence derived from Industry 4.0 has become the most important trend in manufacturing. Smart manufacturing requires the integration of IT and OT systems. The data derived from every aspect of the manufacturing process must be stored for future analysis. Equipment is also beginning to emerge with new demands. Jeffrey Tseng, Manager of the Taiwan Business Unit of Apacer's Vertical Market Application Division, pointed out that compared with the manufacturing approach of pursuing hardware performance in the past, the demand for smart and total integration and customization is now stronger. Apacer has deep technical resources, and can provide intelligent storage solutions that meet customer demands for high reliability and stability, therefore accelerating the development of smart manufacturing.
Jeffrey Tseng went on to say that in the past, not only were manufacturing and automation often independent, but even various devices in the same system would not necessarily be connected. The role of data storage devices is becoming more and more important in a smart manufacturing system where all devices are connected and gradually evolving from "automated" to "smart." Once an error occurs, it may affect the accuracy of the machine control program instructions, resulting in poor processes, capacity interruption or even delays in delivery. If the data generated and collected at the production site for a factory’s artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analysis is unreliable, it may affect the analysis and calculation process and cause further production problems.
To assist in smart factory applications, Apacer's smart storage solutions have two main approaches. One is to improve the stability and reliability of SSD and memory at the production site. The other is to monitor the storage devices from the smart factory’s situation room. Together, these approaches will streamline automated production and make it smarter.
Maintaining automated factory equipment is not a simple process. When any given machine restarts, data is at risk due to power supply interruption. In some cases, the storage device may not be recognized by the host. Apacer developed its proprietary DataDefender™ technology to protect against power supply instability or failure. When an unexpected power failure is detected, volatile data is completely written into the NAND flash memory, reducing the risk of data loss. For factory environments with relatively harsh conditions or where machinery is located close to a powerful heat source, Apacer also offers products with wide temperature and anti-sulfuration protection.
Apacer's industrial-grade wide temperature products are made with wide temperature ICs sourced directly from their original manufacturers, and operate smoothly over a temperature range of -40 ° C to 85 ° C. Commercial-grade ICs can’t complete: the wide temperature products created by the sorting method are not suitable for industrial conditions, and are prone to high failure rates in extremely high or low temperature environments.
Another challenge is sulfuration. When heavy machinery is in operation, there are multiple chemicals containing sulfur additives that may contaminate the working environment. If sulfur comes into contact with silver resistors on a memory module, it can cause variations in resistance value or even open circuits. Apacer's created the first patented anti-sulfuration memory module, which doesn’t follow the traditional practice of adding a sulfur-tolerant layer only to the silver electrode. Instead, a special alloy is used to create resistors, avoiding sulfuration altogether and greatly improving product reliability.
Smart factory applications need to record and visualize all gathered data and conduct analysis while production is in process. Therefore, all equipment data needs to be centralized in a situation room to fully grasp the operational efficiency and production status of the manufacturing equipment. For the monitoring and management needs of storage devices, Apacer provides a double-barreled solution. First, Apacer’s CoreAnalyzer2 technology records the SSD read and write data, analyzes usage behavior and assesses environmental factors. It then recommends the most suitable SSD for the application, as well as firmware customization in some cases. Then, Apacer’s SSDWidget 2.0 software allows remote monitoring of the operation of the storage device, and even allows users to set various reminder parameters, allowing managers to more fully grasp the state of the manufacturing operation.
As 5G deployment rolls out around the world, Apacer currently has the industry's most comprehensive line of industrial-grade 3D NAND PCIe products, providing high-speed, low-latency solutions. Apacer also recognizes that different vertical applications will need different approaches to SSD technology. With this in mind, Apacer continues to support seven vertical application markets, including: defense, transportation, server and networking, factory automation, the Internet of Things (IoT), healthcare and gaming, with dedicated R&D teams providing customized solutions for each market. Jeffrey Tseng added that Apacer has been in the industrial storage industry for nearly 20 years and has solid partnerships with the world’s leading component suppliers. In the future, Apacer’s products and technical services will continue to develop, providing intelligent and high-performance storage solutions.