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8 SMT007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2019 Nolan's Notes by Nolan Johnson, I-CONNECT007 Smart Factories: A Shift in Thinking Happy Holden will tell you that smart factories are nothing new. And Happy should know; he helped develop the smart factories of the 1970s and 1980s at Hewlett-Packard. No surprise then that Happy is right: components that make up the smart factory foundation are not new, at least not at a basic technological level. Factory automation still uses PLCs, sensors, robotics, etc. But two things are quite different today: 1. Across the globe, governments and key industry players are striving for cleaner, greener factories for the sake of the environment 2. The 21 st century allows for interconnected, multifaceted use of the data available through all these sensors and robotics To Happy's point, smart factories have been around for 30 or 40 years; the interstate highway system has been around even longer. Yet it's the innovative and unanticipated use of both funda - mental infrastructures through new and wider connectivity that changes, well, everything. The technology that enables an automobile to drive itself is cutting edge, innovative, and a lit - tle scary to most of us who were born in the 20 th century. Stop to consider, though, that these au- tonomous vehicles are being built to operate on the roads, streets, and freeways originally sur- veyed and constructed to accommodate a frac- tion of the cars they carry today—cars that relied on humans to be the operators and to perform the labor of driving. I'm sure that the civil en- gineers hired by President Eisenhower's admin- istration to create the interstate highway system were not thinking about self-driving cars when they drafted their routes and cloverleafs. Still, today's innovators have shown we can build an autonomous vehicle (using well-established technologies such as radar, Lidar, and cellular connections) that will function on those original roadways. With government pressure to increase sus - tainability, safety, and access—along with emerging supporting technologies like 5G con- nectivity and alternative powerplants, followed new vehicle usage models under development, such as shared vehicles—the time has come for the automotive industry to reshape itself and its products. The component pieces may be evolu - tionary, but together, they implement a revolu- tionary change in the use-model for our road- ways and a fundamental shift in how we as a culture will think about automobiles. Again, Happy is exactly right. We've been building automated factories for quite a while; we know we can. The time has come for smart factories in our industry. The time has come for our autonomous technology revolution. Govern - ments are currently putting increasing pressure on factories to be sustainable and green. Mature, (Image: Victory Giant Technology)

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