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80 SMT007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2019 Each level has an increasing percentage of machine/computer content handling the infor- mation required to fabricate, schedule, test, or move a product. Automation Matrix When both measures are applied to any ac- tivity in the process to tool or build a printed circuit, an automation matrix is created about that work center. This matrix allows for the current situation and future objectives or plans to be appraised, even if it is all manual (Fig- ure 1). It is quite common for automation ob- jectives to be made up of a number of steps or phases, allowing each step to be stabilized before the next one is taken. The automation matrix lends itself to this step approach. Contrary to popular belief, the real work in automation is getting started. The time for management to start is now. In general, there will be five challenges that executives need to concentrate on if an automation program is to take root and flourish: 1. Commit to being the best 2. Build the team 3. Tear down traditional barriers 4. Gain knowledge of the tools and philosophies that create excellence 5. Use leadership to execute the strategies Commitment The first step is a commitment; more pre- cisely, a shared vision is the most important step. The vision that must be shared is that of being the best and creating a roadmap for achieving that major goal. There will prob- ably be changes along the way. The general manager can best affect major changes from the top, whether they are the head of a stand- alone company or of a major manufacturing division. Only the general manager can make a long-term commitment to being the best. This vision is shared because it will also require others to be committed to manufacturing and engineering excellence. Building the Team Successful automation can only result from a professional team effort. How can a company get everybody pulling in the same direction? Part of the answer is education through shar- ing information about technologies that are galloping out ahead of the decision makers. The general manager must hire people who can do the job when they think their team is internally or externally deficient. They must al- so adequately train the whole team, including the production workers, who are too often left out (Figure 2). The technical demands may re- quire at least a temporary boost in engineering power or consulting. In many cases, the lack of adequately trained numbers of engineers limits the rate of improvement and increases the risk of failure. Tearing Down Traditional Barriers To build the team that is required, the general manager must tear down the traditional walls that have isolated the various functions that participate in manufacturing and engineering. They must build a strong partnership of equals from marketing, R&D, purchasing, produc- tion, engineering, manufacturing, sales, distri- bution, and after-sales service. These related functions should work together as a closely- knit team to achieve the overriding goal of being the best. These walls are not only bar- riers to the shared vision but also to the under- Mechanization Classes Material Handling Mechanization Systemization Networking Systemization Levels Figure 1: Automation vector is defined as systemization and mechanization, including material handling and networking between work centers.

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