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To achieve real intelligent manufacturing for ceramic tiles industry , how many steps we need ?

- Dec 12, 2017 -

In the recent 40 years of reform and opening up, the modern ceramic industry in China has made extraordinary achievements. In terms of tile production methods, it has undergone several stages from semi-mechanization, mechanization to automation. It is now moving rapidly in the direction of informatization and intelligence .


The different modes of production determine the level of productivity in an industry. In recent years, with the promulgation of the "Made in China 2025" national strategy and the concept of German Industry 4.0, a veteran industrial manufacturing powerhouse, the concept of intelligent manufacturing has become very hot and has become a powerful engine for the transformation and upgrading of traditional manufacturing industries.

If compared with the German Industry 4.0 relative standard, China's ceramics industry is still in the 2.0 to 3.0 over-stage. In general, the mechanization is in the 1.0 phase, the automation is in the 2.0 phase, the informatization is in the phase of 3.0 and the intelligence is in the phase of 4.0. According to this division standard, the day that the tile production mode realizes the intelligent manufacture is the day that the German Industry 4.0 is achieved.


In the world's most complete ceramic tile industry chain, the most mature industrial clusters-Foshan, the development of various ancillary industries in the ceramic tile manufacturing industry is under the leadership of showing a booming momentum of development, especially in recent years, along with the pace of enterprise restructuring and upgrading Speed up, all kinds of robots have access to the tile production workshop, such as automatic brick machine, automatic storage machine, automatic packing machine, automatic sorting machine, unmanned storage forklifts, etc. These extensive automation equipment application greatly enhance the level of ceramic tile production, and save a large number of ordinary positions operatives, to a certain extent, solve the shortage of employment.


With the continuous improvement of the level of automation, moving forward for tile production will undoubtedly face the challenge of information technology. In this era when big data, cloud computing is widely used for new industries, informatization for manufacturing industry, especially for tiles industry is relatively backward. At present, most of the information collection and storage of ceramic tile manufacturers are still in a stage of pure data collection and information silo. This point can be seen from the organizational structure of many enterprises, how many companies set up a separate information center? How many companies can integrate supply chain, sales chain and production data? And how many companies can rely on information chain to rebuild the enterprise value chain, and ultimately to achieve the cross from the internet to the web of things ?


Intelligent manufacturing is inseparable from the support of big data, we have to achieve not only data interaction between people and machines, but also data exchange between machines and machines.By using of big data, cloud computing, models, scenarios, to solve the  forward-looking, predictive issues for production, so that the ceramic tile production process gradually toward the goal of non-intervention, transparency, connectivity, real-time and extensible.


Even for small orders of tiles products from consumers in the terminal store, instead of collecting these orders by distributors and then place production to factory, manufacturers should receive orders and update inventory immediately . If the manufacturer can not get more detailed information from consumers ,such as consumers age, occupation, preferences, housing area, residential lots and purchasing time, without these data, the company's product inventory, only can be determined by the number of orders from the dealers, rather than directly from the final consumers. Without them, the company's next new product development will be more influenced by dealers preferences rather than consumers preferences .


During process of reconstruction of value chain relying on big data, if you can not unify the supply chain, sales and manufacturing sectors, if these links can not get through, can not achieve data sharing, multi-point docking, it will not be able to reduce the manufacturers and dealer inventory, scheduling can not schedule timely adjustment, unable to achieve real production on demand, it will not be able to further reduce the production costs of enterprises, and ultimately make the information technology a roadblock for smart corporate.

At present, the level of automation in ink-jet printing, sorting, packing, handling and warehousing in the ceramic tile production process is relatively high, and robot applications are relatively common, but the data collection, integration and application of these links are relatively weak and can not be applied to achieve a complete data collection, centralization, unified and interaction, especially for raw material procurement, powder preparation, ingredients supply,  are still in the initial stage of optimization relying on human resources and management processes with management software, can not achieve the whole process of production data.The real-time interaction, matching and integration of applications, to a certain extent, limit the level of automation to further enhance business, let alone intelligent manufacturing.


In recent years, although most enterprises have established management systems such as OA, ERP, CRM, HR, PDM and SCM, but the data generated by these management systems also have problems such as being isolated, mismatched and incompatible. It is relatively easy for enterprises to introduce and establish a set of management software. While it is difficult to integrate different systems and different data with each other so that data can generate productivity through interaction rather than being limited to data assessment and machine replacement.


Anyway, smart manufacturing is iteratively upgrading the manufacturing paradigm of traditional manufacturing at a surprising rate. In Foshan, known for its manufacturing industry, the robotics industry is becoming one of the hottest sunrise industries in recent years. It is believed that with the advancement of artificial intelligence AI technology, more and more industrial internet ecosystems and artificial intelligence technology platforms based on big data will be bred to further realize the integration of robots and the internet, and more robots may devote themselves to the tiles production process, which can be collected by the platform of various types of data to achieve production and supply of various systems to run the robot system analysis, forecasting, monitoring and maintenance, so as to achieve the true sense of the building ceramics industry, intelligent manufacturing.


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