ICP DAS customizes solutions across verticals

ICP DAS customizes solutions across verticals
ICP DAS, a leading industrial automation solutions provider, has enjoyed steady growth in recent years, thanks to rising demands for IIoT-related solutions as well as the company’s ability to customize their offerings to different customer needs. Meanwhile, the company has a strong Asia focus. A participant of Secutech Thailand last year, ICP DAS this year will also take part in Secutech Vietnam, eyeing the vast Vietnamese market.

Founded in 1993, ICP DAS has built a reputation in the area of industrial automation, offering Industry 4.0-related products and solutions to help plants and factories achieve further efficiency and productivity. Building on its success in the industrial sector, the company has also developed solutions that can benefit other vertical markets as well. “We now have smart city, energy management, IIoT, building automation, smart panel and SCADA solutions, targeting a wider range of customers,” said Frank Cheng, VP of Sales and Marketing at ICP DAS. “It is because of this we’re rolling out new products every year. Last year new products increased by over 180, which even took us by surprise. We do our best to develop products and solutions for our customers’ needs.”

A focus on customization

According to Cheng, amid competition, ICP DAS wins out by delivering customized, tailor-made solutions across different verticals to accommodate end users. Cheng cited as an example ICP DAS’s IoTstar IIoT cloud management software, which can be hosted in a public cloud or a private cloud, depending on the customer’s preference. “IoTstar is beneficial for end-user entities with multiple sites across the world. It is a central command and control platform that collects data from edge controllers at different sites. The platform can be hosted on the public cloud that charges a fee, for example, Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS. If the user opts to host it on their private cloud, we can accommodate, too,” Cheng said. “We provide great flexibility for customers, offering them a wide range of options to choose from based on their preference.”

Furthermore, Cheng mentioned that transitioning into Industry 4.0 is a process that requires a lot of machine sensorization and data acquisition. In this regard, ICP DAS does a lot of site visitations and assessments to find out what the user’s real needs are, and provide the solutions accordingly.

“For new factories, they will implement Industry 4.0 — that’s for sure. However, a lot of our customers are existing factories that are moving towards Industry 4.0. As every factory is different, we are not going to imagine a solution and quote a price,” Cheng said. “Rather, we go to the site, assess the site and find out what the customer really wants: Do they want to improve quality control, or do you want to get real-time feedback on machine status? We then provide the solutions based on their requirements.”

In another example, ICP DAS provided a solution to an Israeli client which uses machine tools in an automated environment. If a cutter breaks during the middle of the night, the machine would instantly send an alert to the operator’s smart device so the situation could be dealt with immediately. Further, Cheng mentioned a public swimming pool which opens at 5 a.m. in the morning, requiring the operator to get there at 4:30 a.m. to add disinfectants. ICP DAS automated the whole process to make life easier for the pool staff.

According to Cheng, when considering IIoT-related spending, the client often asks about how much return on investment they might get. While this is a valid question, Cheng urges them to look at the issue from another perspective. “What IIoT brings is competitiveness. If you are in the last place in your business, you’ll probably worry more about being eliminated from the market than the return on investment,” Cheng said. “Amid drastic industry changes, you shouldn’t just think about ROI. Being competitive is the first thing you should consider.”

Intelligence on the edge

ICP DAS offers a variety of IoT-related products and devices, from sensors and I/O controllers at the edge level to management platforms at the cloud level. According to Cheng, the company places a special focus on edge computing so actions can be taken at the edge level, especially in events that require immediate attention.

“The flood disaster prevention system in Taichung uses our solution. Once the sensor detects rising water levels, it will alert our WISE series I/O modules, which will then activate the floodgate,” Cheng said. “Since the intelligence is already on the edge, there’s no need to transmit the data back to the command and control center. During an emergency situation, there’s no time for the decision to be made at the back. Intelligence on the edge can quicken the decision-making process and prevent terrible tragedies from happening.”

ICP DAS even uses machine learning and artificial intelligence in some of their solutions to achieve further accuracy. For example, Taiwan’s railway administration uses ICP DAS’s rail monitoring system, which learns different patterns of railroad switching during operation. “If the switching of tracks did not follow an established set of patterns, then something might have gone wrong, and this might lead to two trains crashing into each other. The system will detect the abnormality and issue an alert instantly,” Cheng said.

Eyeing the vietnamese market

ICP DAS has built a strong presence in Asia, with projects in various markets in the region. Now the company is eyeing Vietnam, an emerging market with huge potential. “We did not focus so much on Vietnam before because they mostly used manual labor, focusing little on automation. But the country is going through a transformation,” Cheng said. “Taiwanese companies there account for roughly 40 percent of foreign enterprises.

Most of them are in the shoe-manufacturing, textile, food and plastics business. They’ve made some money and are now looking to make operations more efficient through automation, and there’s our opportunity. In Taiwan, we have a lot of experience in those sectors, and we can replicate our Taiwan success in Vietnam.”

ICP DAS hopes to gain more visibility by marketing via local print and electronic media. It also seeks to participate in related tradeshows — the company will take part in Secutech Vietnam this year. Further, the company aims to leverage the knowledge of its distributor in Vietnam to make further inroads into the market. “We need their connections to find clients other than Taiwanese companies. Examples include government-initiated smart city projects, which are won through a bidding process. This is where we need our distributor’s local connections and expertise,” Cheng said.

Winning out

Indeed, Industry 4.0 has evolved from a buzzword to reality, with many competing solutions available. Amid this competition, offering customized solutions based on the user’s real needs is key to winning out. ICP DAS has succeeded in this regard and is now seeking to replicate its Taiwan success in other parts of Asia. The company is indeed a model that its peers can learn from.
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