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30 SMT007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2018 machine combinations and configurations— many more custom machine interfaces would have to be developed. The development team realized that through the adoption of CFX, the closed-loop software would work equally well on any line configu- ration with the need to develop just one inter- face, which would then provide the required data connections on a plug-and-play basis. For machine vendors involved in these kinds of initiatives with different advanced requests for MES data by customers—an aver- age of 30 or so supported bespoke interfaces they each have—this could all be replaced with one stan- dard interface. The use of CFX also results in faster deployments with fewer issues, which reduces sales cycle times. Further benefits include how the omni-directional nature of CFX provides access to data both upstream and downstream on the line, and from the factory as a whole, such as work-order manage- ment and material logistics infor- mation. One small example of the latter is getting a heads-up about sizes and rotations of actual mate- rials received. This could be helpful in the event that the material manu- facturer changes. Any need for program adjustment could be made automatically at material replen- ishment without having to stop the machine or risk quality issues. CFX enables solutions to work together in any smart factory from differ- ent vendors at all levels and across all disciplines of the manufacturing operation. CFX applications do not stop at machines. They support transac- tional processes, such as material logistics, and provide information to humans within the digital factory. The key flexibility of CFX created through the use of augmented reality (AR) enables the performance of multiple roles within the factory. CFX and MES One key area of change that both CFX and the Industry 4.0 mandate is at the manufactur- ing execution system (MES) layer. What origi- nally evolved as a visibility and control exten- sion of enterprise resource planning (ERP), generic MES systems across many manufac- turing industries have remained focused on the management of manual tasks and require a significant amount of manual data capture. Some MES solutions have evolved to adapt data from assembly machines through the development of several complex bespoke interfaces that store acquired data in some form of a database ready for processing and use. The value of this legacy data is limited by the completeness and reliability of the original machine interfaces, as well as the ability of the MES application to translate the proprietary data received to create consistent meaning. The appli- cation of IIoT represents a differ- ent approach for data exchange than the way in which the major- ity of bespoke database driven solutions have been architected. IIoT data is immediate and trig- gers actions and responses, as well as passes normalized event infor- mation into a database. A more modern, digital MES platform with an emphasis on real-time visibility and awareness of the manufactur- ing operation is essential. This is a significant change of paradigm for in-house solutions, externally developed and customized point- solutions, and generic MES plat- forms. For many legacy systems, it will have to be enough to utilize CFX to get legacy data in a more efficient way. But the real potential of CFX lies in being a key part of a new generation of augmented decision-making algorithms. Extremely few of these exist so far. Start-up companies are fast-tracking new

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