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54 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2019 Automated factories, or so-called smart fac- tories, where machines handle it all just like in the movies from the 80s are no longer utopian. Smart, automated fully digitalized factories are a reality, but it's not all new. Defining "Smart Factories" In 1913, Ford Motor Company introduced a car production assembly line considered to be one of the pioneer types of automation in the manufacturing industry. Previously, the job was done by skilled and unskilled work- ers. Production automation improved Ford's production rates and increased profits. The as- sembly line and mass car production were the first of their kind globally. It reduced the car assembly time from 12 hours per car to about one and a half hours per car [1] . However, being able to produce cars faster and better was good enough back in 1913, but it's not today. Automation and connected smart factories are the most recent manufacturing trends. Most processes in a PCB factory can be automated and monitored through imple- menting Industry 4.0 and IoT trends into PCB manufacturing. An increasingly digital produc- tion line will increase the efficiency, rule out mistakes and misinterpretation, and allow the focus to be on quality and innovation, which will create new value for the customers. So, we hear a lot about smart factories lately, but what are they really? A smart factory is defined by its ability to harness manufactur- ing data flowing throughout the enterprise and then convert that data into intelligent informa- tion that can be used to create improvements A PCB Broker's Guide Through the Galaxy of Automation Feature Column by The PCB Norsemen

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