ForwardX – TCL | Smart Manufacturing

TCL’s Pain Points

Lack of Flexibility

Growing business volume and SKU proliferation made changeovers frequent. Traditional automation equipment was too costly and couldn’t adapt quickly enough.

Poor Connectivity

Previous WiFi infrastructure had many blind spots which led to vehicles being disconnected when moving across the facility. Real-time control of operations was impossible.

Low Degree of Automation

Low levels of automation meant workflows were labor intensive and the facility became crowded. Congestion led to safety issues from human-machine interaction. Labor costs and workplace danger were too high.

Complex Environment

Many moving pieces and a congested facility led to inefficient transfers, more errors, and, consequently, higher costs.

Our Solution

The Process

  • With 5G provided by China Mobile, the MES (Manufacturing Execution System) pushes batch lot production plans;
  • The lineside intelligent warehouse prepares and distributes materials in batches for transport;
  • The MES triggers the AMR to deliver materials to the SMT machine according
    to the lead time, production efficiency and safety stock;
  • ForwardX AMRs automatically navigate to the designated area to deliver raw materials; Once at the drop-off point, workers use the onboard interface to confirm receipt;
  • The MES receives notice of a finished batch and triggers the AMR to pick up the goods and deliver them to the next location;
  • The AMR autonomously plans its path and navigates through the warehouse transporting goods to the finished goods warehouse.

The Results

TCL’s 5G Smart Factory improved visibility across its operations by reducing informational blind spots and data backlogs.

On-demand material handling in the SMT workshop became fully autonomous. Supplies are picked from storage, moved, and delivered to lines; WIP goods are moved between lines; finished goods are loaded, moved, and stored.

With fully autonomous material handling, TCL achieved a failure-free rate of 99.9%, automated 100% of material handling workflows, reduced production personnel by 20%, and increase inventory turnover speed by 30%. Furthermore, data can now be captured throughout each step of the process and used for further improvements.

TCL’s transformation was awarded 1st prize at the Bloom Cup 5G Application Project Contest, solidifying the project as a benchmark for smart manufacturing across China.

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