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48 SMT007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2018 disparate computer systems used in electron- ics manufacturing. Given the complexity and cost associated with this undertaking, the path to a smart factory may seem out of reach to all but the largest manufacturers. To enable the widespread adoption of smart factory functionality, it is therefore necessary to reduce the complexity, effort, and cost by defining a general approach to the smart factory infra- structure. Industry Challenges As business needs challenge the electron- ics assembly industry to support increased flexibility, lower overhead, and stricter quali- ty standards, the industry is rapidly adopting improvements in automation and analytics to meet the challenge. The so-called smart facto- ry and Industry 4.0 initiatives are aimed at fur- ther integrating manufacturing processes with business processes to autonomously and con- tinuously optimize operations. The unique challenge to the electron- ic assembly industry is the existing level of technical sophistication and automation pres- ently used to manage the complex manufac- turing process. Computer integrated manu- facturing (CIM) systems are necessary to any electr onics manufacturing operation. Many varied computer systems, automated robots, and technical experts work together not only to execute manufacturing but also to design streamlined processes, optimize the sup - ply chain, and manage product quality. To begin linking these existing processes togeth- er can be an arduous task requiring a multi- disciplinary team of technical process experts, product engineers, operational resources, and business process owners. Although integration can be a complex and expensive proposition, there are tangible ben- efits to closely coupling the systems used to manage the equipment, the factory, and the enterprise. The ability to share informa- tion and control not only between individual equipment but also between equipment and business systems offers the ability to further automate and optimize sophisticated manu- facturing processes. Immediate Effects on Electronics Manufacturing Considering the challenges facing the indus- try, electronic manufacturers will be seek- ing solutions that represent tangible progress toward the fundamentals of Industry 4.0 and the smart factory, namely autonomous, contin- uous optimization of operations. SMT equip- ment vendors have been the first to respond to the needs of the market by expanding the scope of their CIM systems beyond simply control- ling the individual machine to managing the entire production line or other ancillary pro- cesses such as material management. Through partnerships with complimentary equipment vendors, entire end-to-end solutions can be offered to the market. Although systems provided by the equip- ment vendor will be the optimal solution for their equipment platform and will begin to address the need for integrated, autono - mous manufacturing, there is still significant complexity in connecting the web of busi- ness processes needed for most smart facto- ry functions. Due to a variety of factors, many manufacturers have a mix of equipment ven- dors. A given manufacturing site may have multiple SMT platforms and a broad range of third-party equipment platforms to support. To integrate and connect these heterogeneous environments with minimal complexity and cost, it is advantageous to define a generic approach to the smart factory. The unique challenge to the electronic assembly industry is the existing level of technical sophistication and automation presently used to manage the complex manufacturing process.

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