South Korea’s leading conglomerate Hanwha Group plans to venture into the smart factory business, joining the burgeoning market dominated by General Electronics Co. (GE) and Siemens AG in the transitional age of industry and society heading towards full automation and practical robotics applications.
According to a senior official at Hanwha Wednesday, the group recently formed a task force team dedicated to the development of hardware and software that can help to make factories smarter, cost-efficient, and more productive through increased computing systems. Hanwha Techwin Co., the group’s defense and aircraft engine making unit, will first come up with a pilot model in automating factories that would be applied to other manufacturing subsidiaries.
Kim Dong-kwan, director at Hanwha Q Cells Co. who is also the first son of group Chairman Kim Seung-youn, has been leading the project, according to sources.
Smart factory refers to advanced and automated manufacturing facility using the Internet of Things technology and big data. Global firms such as GE and Siemens are predominant players in the smart factory market. Hanwha Techwin signed a memorandum of understanding with GE last October to adopt the U.S. firm’s solutions such as Asset Performance Management software Predix to digitalize its factories in aviation and defense sectors.
But in the long term, Hanwha aims to develop its own smart platforms to ramp up production and efficiency of its own facilities and possibly market the solutions later, said the official.
The firm opened a new aircraft engine parts factory commanding around 14,000 square meters in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province at a cost of 100 billion won ($87.4 million) last November. The factory runs on an automated system with high-tech robots and the firm plans to double the facility capacity by 2018.
Hanwha S&C Co., the group’s information technology (IT) solutions unit, will develop IoT platform which will be applied to the factory within this year at the earliest.
By Kim Jung-hwan
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