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June 2016 • SMT Magazine 31 the ultimate goal. We have narrowed it down to show customers what we can do for them with our equipment. We are waiting to support the integration with any MES system or machine- to-machine communication. There are a lot of producers in China who are really advanced and want to go that way, but it will be step by step. That's an easier way to understand what investments are needed to get to that stage. To jump from traditional pro- duction to a full Industry 4.0 is a challenge for a lot of companies. Las Marias: A step toward "smarter factories." Bredin: One way we're trying to be smarter and less dependent on people is to have our Smart Bin in the kitting area for the pick and place. It's a complete paperless kitting instruction, where the bin that then goes into the magazine of the machine will communicate on an LCD display to the operator. When you scan a new read, you will get informed on this display where you should put it. Also, when you are un-kitting, you will be told if another line or kitting operator is need- ing the same read, like if they have only one left in the factory. In the un-kitting area, you will also be told on the display where that needs to go, maybe back to the main warehouse or to your colleague doing a job next to you. That will also help make the factory smarter. Las Marias: What about the future of the SMT in- dustry? Bredin: I wish I knew. The complexity is grow- ing. From our perspective, we see a huge poten- tial with the jet dispenser and jet printer. For us, the future is really bright. At this exhibition, you can see a lot of intelligent storage capacity solutions to handle material. The challenge for many is to keep track of where they have their materials and to have an official material flow in the factory. Batch sizes seem to be smaller and smaller, so the effort needs to be put into being able to run timely production efficiently. That's the area where I think a lot of cus- tomer requests will be. To invest in a full SMT line requires an awful lot of money. You want it to be running and producing boards. Not idle and waiting for operators or material to arrive to support it. That's where this smart factory or Industry 4.0 is important to help those running shorter and shorter batches. Mycronic grew up on speed. We've always been addressing these needs, like the way that we load and unload quickly and keep track of material. There's no changeover time in the jet printer and jet dis- penser. You just select a program and start print- ing. In the future, we'll never live without elec- tronics. There's going to be more and more de- mand. Most likely, with the life cycle of many products getting shorter, there's a bigger de- mand for NPI or a lot of products at the end of the life cycle making production batches shorter in manufacturing. This is where a lot of companies are lacking at the moment: the right equipment. Las Marias: I've read that sometimes, full automa- tion is not the answer, but a mixture or a hybrid where you have a semi-automated line because you have to be flexible. Bredin: Absolutely. Up until recently, the only fully automated line was for consumer electron- ics running the same type of board day in and day out; but with the right equipment you can be extremely flexible and fully automated. All while being proactive. Give the operators and the people working the line the right informa- tion at the right time. Not when the machine stops, but before it's about to run out. For in- stance, our pick and place machines will get a proactive replenishment message that it com- municates with the towers and will provide a need for replenishment. You set the time win- dow. No time is wasted. Then, you can run ef- ficiently with less people involved. That is also a reason for automation, because the labor cost impact on the total price of the product you are producing is increasing. Las Marias: Exactly. Thomas, thank you very much for your insight. Bredin: You're welcome. SMT SOLDER JET PRINTING: KEEPING UP WITH THE CHALLENGES

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