Making smart manufacturing a cost-efficient reality for SMEs

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the global economy. In many ASEAN nations, SMEs are responsible for up to 99% of all business establishments, over 90% of employment, and contribute almost 60% of the gross domestic product (GDP).

However, despite being the engines of growth of the communities and countries they reside in, SMEs typically employ a lower level of automation than multinationals due to their resource constraints. Cost and talent retention remain major burdens to many SMEs adopting advanced technologies such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

For manufacturing SMEs, efficiency and productivity remain the name of the game, and smart manufacturing and smart factories begin with ensuring they have good, reliable data with which to make key decisions.

Subscription, cloud-based model

Taiwanese startup GoodLinker has developed a tool to aid SMEs in monitoring equipment status, process visualisation, and alerts. Its GoodLinker Cloud of SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) is a subscription service with a cloud dashboard and mobile app that gives business owners real-time data, malfunction alerts, and history reports.

Founder and CEO Ethan Feng brings years of experience at Taiwanese electronics manufacturing behemoth Foxconn, where he was involved in the construction of an iPhone metal processing plant and a Nokia mold demonstration plant. Feng is also a serial entrepreneur, having designed and built automated optical inspection equipment.

GoodLinker business development manager Bruce King told e27: “The first stage of smart manufacturing is visualising production line data. We developed a tool to monitor machinery, improve management and production efficiency, and reduce labour costs.

“Thanks to GoodLinker’s subscription model, our solutions are 10 times more economical and implementation time is 10 times faster (less than a week) compared to the typical onboarding process for new technologies,” he added.

Data visibility and transparency helps to increase management efficiency

Retrofitting existing equipment to be “smart”

GoodLinker’s solution does not call for a massive system overhaul, as its ARM-embedded industrial computer (LESI Edge Computer) can be attached to existing machinery, turning it into a “smart equipment” by adding computing, event handling, data acquisition, and cloud connectivity capabilities.

GoodLinker industrial IoT platform, which is powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. The platform is based on AWS serverless architecture able to connect with tens of millions of IoT devices and concurrent users still ensures immediacy and could tolerate temporary disconnection. Through this world well-known cloud provider, GoodLinker could display visual production line data and historical records enable integrated multi-device management, and feature a web SCADA dashboard and mobile app for SME owners to access key data at a moment’s notice.

Another product is a tower light sensor that provides an economical and accurate solution for monitoring the machine status without connecting the sensor to internal wiring, resulting in a faster installation process. The tower light sensor enables factory managers to track utilisation rates, conduct remote monitoring, view historical statuses and respond to abnormal status alarms.

Having good, reliable data empowers SMEs to conduct efficient data analysis across different uses including AI, business intelligence, enterprise resource planning systems, manufacturing execution systems, quality control, and production scheduling.

“We act like a data acquisition interface that provides cloud service maintenance. Thus we can help clients like system integrators build solutions for end users (SME owners or factory managers) centred around demand planning, construction, as well as customer relationship management,” King said.

Next in the product pipeline is a screen data extractor(SDE). It is designed for catch and recognize values on the machine HMI screen via HDMI/VGA signal, based on Advantech Industrial PC and GoodLinker AI technologies. GoodLinker has built-in cooperation with sales and marketing developer Advantech International.

The data collect interface is the next infrastructure of digital transformation

Growing ASEAN presence with partnerships

To date, GoodLinker solutions have been adopted by SMEs from more than 20 industries in its home base of Taiwan, includes CNC, PCB, 3DP, textile, electroplating, casting, steel, printing, rubber, plastic and food industries. There also a using case in smart agriculture for planting green onions.

One of its partners is Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan’s largest telecommunications company, which GoodLinker collaborated within March 2021 to provide a monthly subscription smart factory solution. GoodLinker worked with Chunghwa’s cloud management team to optimise cloud architecture, costing, performance and cybersecurity — all while reducing its own personnel costs by 60%.

The success of its partnership with Chunghwa paves the way for similar collaborations in ASEAN jurisdictions, where broadband connectivity, cloud capabilities, and system preferences may vary.

In Vietnam, a system integrator is currently testing GoodLinker’s hardware and solutions. Meanwhile, the startup has already signed a non-disclosure agreement with a Malaysian system integrator. GoodLinker views system integrators as potential agents or distributors in markets outside Taiwan.

Expanding user base

Although its short-term focus is on business development towards ASEAN expansion, GoodLinker is also building up to tap the VC market in a couple of years. Its first and only fundraising round was a US$400,000 angel round in 2018 soon after the startup was established.

Moving forward, GoodLinker plans to increase its number of users to more than 150 by 2021. It will build on this in 2022 to fundraise towards hiring talents and taking its solutions to overseas markets.

“Our vision is to make smart manufacturing happen everywhere. SMEs worldwide share the same issues that Taiwan’s SMEs face in adopting Industry 4.0 technologies: high costs of building and maintaining server rooms, months spent on new projects, customisation costs, and a significant gap between operational technology and information technology.

“GoodLinker solves those problems with rapid implementation, simple maintenance and lower pricing that will encourage SMEs to adopt new technologies, and subsequently trigger new demand,” King said.

For more information on GoodLinker, visit their page here: https://e27.co/startups/goodlinker-co-ltd/

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This article is produced by the e27 team, sponsored by 
STPI

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