Digital Specs for Automated Manufacturing: Find the Missing Link!

Automation and connected smart factories are the new manufacturing trend. Industry 4.0 and the Internet of things (IoT) continue to enter PCB manufacturing. However, if we continue down the same path with specifications and requirements written on electronic papers and unintelligent production files, human interpretation is still crucial to avoid mistakes. CircuitData could solve this problem because having one language for automated smart factories is the future!

With the I-Connect007 article about the grand opening of the Unimicron factory in Germany fresh in mind, I also had the opportunity to visit it in June for the 50th anniversary of EIPC. I have seen hundreds of PCB factories virtually, but this was my first time seeing a smart PCB factory in person. The tour showed me how far we have come if we use all available tools. Further, it reminded me of the missing links that disable a true digital chain of information needed to utilize systems in smart factories, such as Unimicron and Whelen Engineering’s GreenSource Fabrication in the United States.

Automating PCB Production

Today, most processes in a smart PCB factory can be automated and monitored. Continued innovation is accelerating the Industry 4.0 transformation of the PCB factory. We strive to analyze and share time-production data to be able to understand and act immediately. When I have visited and audited PCB factories lately, I have seen a growing trend—even with more traditional factories—to have connected equipment, such as online and real-time process monitoring, remote production, and maintenance alarms.

Observing this, it is puzzling to me that we still feed factories with specifications and requirements written on electronic papers and unintelligent production files. Experts in the industry continue to claim that a fabrication drawing printed on A3 paper is vital to understand customers’ requirements. Corporate requirements—even the measurable parts—are given in an analog way into an increasingly digital environment. In almost every issue of I-Connect007’s magazines and other publications, we read about how Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing are growing and changing the production environment.

To read this entire column, which appeared in the October 2018 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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2018

Digital Specs for Automated Manufacturing: Find the Missing Link!

11-29-2018

Automation and connected smart factories are the new manufacturing trend. Industry 4.0 and the Internet of things (IoT) continue to enter PCB manufacturing. However, if we continue down the same path with specifications and requirements written on electronic papers and unintelligent production files, human interpretation is still crucial to avoid mistakes. CircuitData could solve this problem because having one language for automated smart factories is the future!

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PCB Norsemen: The Solution to the UL Challenge—Industrial Awareness

08-28-2018

Writes Jan Pedersen: The solder-limit subject has been a "hot potato" for a quite some time, with many discussions around the new requirement from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) that UL’s Emma Hudson brought to attention in early 2018.

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The PCB Norsemen: Lean Challenges—Standard vs. Non-Standard Products

08-06-2018

Writes Didrick Bech: People tend to treat standard and non-standard products in the same way; however, they represent two parallel product segments and consequently different challenges for your Lean manufacturing process, especially in relation to production and logistical operations. When you fail to differentiate the processing of standard and non-standard products, not only is the Lean manufacturing process disrupted, but you also introduce a variety of production, financial and logistical challenges.

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The Velocity of Technology— What Does It Really Mean?

07-02-2018

PCB Norseman, Jan Pedersen: Driving a car is probably one of the areas where the user comes in direct touch with the technology development. And we understand the speed when we see how fast we get new versions of smartphones and other gadgets. But in what direction are we going?

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2017

Industry 4.0, AI and CircuitData

11-14-2017

PCB Norseman, Andreas Lydersen: As automation works its way onto the shop floors, it still struggles to replace humans in the supporting roles, such as designers, purchasers, brokers, and back-office staff. Where automation on the shop floor replaces humans in doing repetitive manual tasks, the supporting roles (at least some of them) require intelligence to understand and utilise information.

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