SK Inc. C&C and BriteLab Inc. today said they have agreed to jointly develop automation, artificial intelligence, and computer vision systems for global manufacturing businesses in the U.S. market. The companies said their collaboration will combine SK's manufacturing software and BriteLab's materials handling automation as they expand their offerings.
“With our partnership with BriteLab, we look forward to expanding the global business together for the manufacturing vertical solutions business and will introduce customer-friendly digital services to meet the needs of BriteLab's manufacturing customers in the U.S.,” stated Young-dae Kim, director of digital new business development at SK Inc. C&C.
SK Inc. C&C is the de facto holding company of the SK Group, which claims to be the third-largest conglomerate in South Korea. The company offers IT, systems integration, and maintenance and repair services to industries including logistics, energy and chemicals, and the public sector.
San Jose, Calif.-based BriteLab was founded in 2007 as a contract manufacturer supporting the automotive, biosciences, robotics, and e-mobility industries. In addition to its contract engineering (CE) and contract manufacturing (CM) business, BriteLab offers its own OEM automated material handling system (AMHS) systems to semiconductor makers around the world. BriteLab is a subsidiary company of PHC, a multinational Tier 1 automotive parts manufacturer in Daegu, South Korea.
Joint effort for foundries
The companies said the combination of BriteLab's AMHS and SK's Smart Manufacturing Platform will “offer best-of-breed smart manufacturing platforms and solutions which be successfully implemented in the manufacturing industry.”
They also plan to develop new digital business, such as AI-based quality inspection of components, which is in high demand from BriteLab's current customers. The company has 24 global 200mm and 300mm foundry customers. BriteLab said the installed base for its AMHS includes Texas Instruments (TI), NXP Semiconductors, On-Semi, Global Foundry, ST Micro, TSMC, SSMC, and UMC.
In addition, SK and BriteLab said they will jointly develop CE and CM business for U.S.-based customers, as well as smart vision systems.
BriteLab AMHS uses overhead robots
BriteLab said its AMHS includes an Overhead Hoist Transport (OHT) system, which uses ceiling- and floor-mounted robots in high-tech factories. The robots are autonomous vehicles managed and controlled by software to support fast and accurate automation of production lines, it said.
Under the new agreement, the two companies said they have established a Joint Working Group (JWG) for commercializing BriteLab's AMHS and other automation to meet customer demands.
BriteLab has helped develop and manufacture robots. Source: BriteLab
SK offers iFactory Smart, SmartVision
SK Inc. C&C said its “iFactory Smart,” which has already been used in the South Korean precision manufacturing industry, will now be offered to customers in the U.S. through BriteLab.
“We are excited to be working with SK Inc. C&C, especially its AI-based quality management solution using vision systems,” said Steven Kwak, CEO of BriteLab.
SmartVision can read the smallest unit pixel on a screen and quickly train AI modules to read the information in real time, claimed SK. It is heavily used in the environment-social governance (ESG) field, such as quality control (QA) work that removes defects in parts and finished products. The technology is also applied in water quality management, according to SK.
By collecting images created through cameras or closed-circuit television (CCTV) and analyzing the data, SmartVision can quickly and accurately perform inspection tasks, said SK. Such tasks previously required operators to use expensive, separate quality equipment, which could lead to poor inspection, product identification, and dimension measurements, it noted.
BriteLab offers engineering services to manufacturers. Source: BriteLab
Expanding customer base
The two companies are also exploring high-tech businesses in the U.S. beyond semiconductor manufacturing. BriteLab provides autonomous vehicles, industrial automation, data center monitoring robots, smart machines, and autonomous drones. The partners said they plan to offer these and digital services to customers.
“By combining BriteLab's AMHS-based manufacturing logistics capabilities and SK Inc. C&C's manufacturing automation capabilities, we look forward to creating a manufacturing high-tech business that will lead customers' digital innovation,” said Kwak. “As a result, we will actively engage in marketing to our global customers as well as here in the U.S.”
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