Vol.3 Pioneering the Possibilities for Automation with CC-Link & CC-Link IE

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Special Interview

CC-Link Partner Association and Beijing BOE Display Technology Co., Ltd.

An 8.5th-generation Factory Leading the FPD
Industry in China Looks Forward to the Future
Development of CC-Link and CC-Link IE

CC-Link and CC-Link IE are used in production lines for flat panel displays (FPDs) including liquid crystal displays (LCDs). Ms. Naomi Nakamura, global director of the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA), and Mr. Haruyuki Otani, technical task force chairperson of the CLPA, interviewed Mr. Cheng Chang, vice factory manager of Beijing BOE Display Technology Co., Ltd., about their actions and the latest needs for factory automation. Beijing BOE Display Technology Co., Ltd. operates the most-advanced 8.5th-generation factory in China, where the FPD industry has been growing rapidly.

Ms. Nakamura (hereinafter: N )I would like to hear about Beijing BOE Display Technology Co., Ltd. and the 8.5th-generation factory. Mr. Cheng (hereinafter: C ) Our company is one of the affiliated enterprises of BOE Technology Group (BOE). BOE has been leading the liquid crystal display industry in China from the early stages of the industry. BOE entered the LCD industry in China around 2003. After that, BOE has been steadily and continuously increasing the number of production bases; the 5th-generation factory in Beijing, the 6th-generation one in Hefei, and the 4.5th-generation one in Chengdu. The latest factory of BOE Technology Group is the 8.5th-generation factory in Beijing, which is operated by Beijing BOE Display Technology Co., Ltd. Beijing BOE Display Technology Co., Ltd. started the mass production of LCDs at the 8.5th-generation factory from September, 2011.
From touch-panel LCDs of 7 inches for mobile devices to the largest LCDs of 110 inches for large-screen televisions, various types of liquid crystal display panels are being produced in this factory. The current production capacity is 110,000 LCDs per month. We are planning to improve the manufacturing facilities to increase the production capacity to 120,000 LCDs per month.

Seamless connection with information systems is important

Mr. Otani (hereinafter: O )Would you tell us what is your company doing for the automation of production lines? CWe consider that the advancement of automation is one of the key issues for us. According to Mr. Dongsheng Wang, president of BOE Technology Group, our manufacturing technology needs to constantly innovate. Automation is the main pillar of this innovation. This is being driven by increases in employment costs. Unless we increase the rate of automation of production lines to reduce the employment costs, we would lose our competitive strength in the FPD market. The technologies of CC-Link and CC-Link IE have already been used in our production systems. Their roles will become more important in the future.
Furthermore, we are promoting the introduction of Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM), which is intended to improve production efficiency by managing all the various data generated in the manufacturing facilities. The CIM concept uses advanced technologies such as cloud computing and communication systems that connect the network of the manufacturing facilities with the host information systems so as to enable the quick-processing of vast amounts of data collected from the facilities. We will use the technologies of CC-Link and CC-Link IE for this system as well.
OWhat is the reason why your company is strengthening the communication system between the information system and the manufacturing facilities? CThis is because the amount of data coming from the production lines to the information system is exponentially increasing. There are two reasons for the increase. One is the growth of the factory size. The more manufacturing machines we have, the more data we have to process. The other reason is that the number of product models produced in one manufacturing facility is increasing. The trend of many models being produced in small quantities is getting more common as consumer needs diversify. Thus overall, the amount of data to be processed is increasing. OOf course we also think that the communication between manufacturing facilities and the host information systems is an important factor. CLPA developed the "Seamless Message Protocol (SLMP)", a common protocol for connecting information systems where Ethernet is used to the CC-Link IE network of manufacturing facilities.
Using SLMP enables a simple connection between the factory and information systems' networks.

"Reliability" and "Interoperability" are mandatory

NCC-Link and CC-Link IE are already used in your company's factories. Would you tell us what features are required when your company chooses which industrial network standards to use? CWe pay attention to the following five features. The most important feature is "Reliability". If a production line stops, it causes enormous losses. The second-most important feature is "Interoperability" among devices. This is important to build networks flexibly using various different vendors' devices together. The third feature is cost efficiency and the fourth one is the data transmission speed. The last feature is the communication distance and the number of nodes that can be connected. NHow does your company evaluate CC-Link and CC-Link IE? CWe consider that CC-Link and CC-Link IE meets all these requirements. However, we hope that the data transmission speed will increase. NThe data transmission speed of CC-Link and CC-Link IE is 1 gigabit per second. This is the fastest speed among industrial network standards. Why do you need faster speed? CWe had considered that the data transmission speed was enough, but we also have to consider possible problems in the future. Many requirements for increased production data are now emerging.
For example, the size of LCD manufacturing equipment is increasing. The trend for the glass substrate size to increase has stopped, but manufacturing equipment may need to be operated at higher speeds to improve its production capacity. Thus, the amount of data to be processed will increase. Furthermore, if we produce new displays with higher levels of technology in the future, the manufacturing process will become more complex and the amount of data to be processed will increase further.
We measure the timing of the data communication in production lines in one hundredth of a second increments. This is because the timing affects production cycle times.
OAs you pointed out, we need to pay attention to the market needs for the data transmission speed. COur goal is that our 8.5th-generation factory will become the highest revenue producing LCD factory in the world. We consider that industrial networks are an important part of achieving this goal. CC-Link and CC-Link IE are excellent automation technologies and will be used in many other industries. We look forward to the future development of CC-Link and CC-Link IE.

Ms. Naomi NakamuraGlobal Director
CC-Link Partner Association

Mr. Haruyuki OtaniTechnical Task Force Chair Person
CC-Link Partner Association

Mr. Cheng ChangCF Factory
Vice Factory Manager
Beijing BOE Display Technology Co., Ltd.

About this interview

This interview was conducted on the site of the "FPD International China 2013/ Beijing Summit" (Host: China Optics and Optoelectronics Manufactures Association LCD Branch and Nikkei Business Publications, Inc.), which was held in Beijing from September 10th to 11th, 2013. CLPA had a booth in this event and participated in a round-table discussion. Many key persons engaged in the manufacturing technology of the FPD industry in China and representatives of automation-related companies in Japan gathered for the conference. CLPA spoke about the benefits of CC-Link and CC-Link IE there.

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