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12 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2019 cally and meet that cus- tomer demand for auto- mated manufacturing. Now, they realize they can do this, but don't know how because they are experts in machine software—not MES software. CFX becomes the bridge that connects the machines to the MES envi- ronment so that they don't need to understand about MES and we don't need to get involved with the machine side. We're clearly aligned and collaborat- ing together through CFX. The stage we're at right now is hundreds of machine vendors are saying, "Let's do some- thing. What should we do? How are we going to do this?" Matties: Putting the infrastructure in place is one thing, but implementation is another issue. There's not necessarily a manual out there that says, "Here's step one through to the final step." The challenges include how do you choose, where do you start, what's the right strategy? Ford: Yes, because if you get it right the first time, you have very little cost or risk and a lot of gain. Matties: And there's a lot of fear because we know if we get it wrong the first time, the opposite of all that you just said happens. Ford: We're aiming to gather a few case studies from customers and machine vendors to show how achievable and easy it is to put something together. Signs are coming up already. There's a lot of scope in the pipeline to see these things, and IPC is supporting the exchange of infor- mation. We're setting up "A" teams to focus on different application areas, software devel- opment kits, and even a manual to help peo- ple get started. It's all coming together through cooperation. And people thought it was impossible because nobody would agree. If you brought three machine ven- dors in competition with each other on a phone call, were they going to agree on what the data is going to be? Well, they have. They were guided a little bit because we need to see the big pic- ture and keep the context, but we went through them one by one, hundreds of times over, and the standard is now published. Matties: There's a lot of fear that they were giv- ing away proprietary information, but that was dispelled. Ford: Right. It's surprising that people would do that, considering the amount of antagonism that went on before because people differen- tiated themselves about what they could do. Now, we're telling people, "You all need to pro- vide the same data so that your customers will understand it all." There are no hidden secrets anymore or proprietary pieces of data that can be used as we see in other formats; that doesn't exist in CFX. This standard represents a genuine step forward. The next phase of the story is starting because hundreds of machine vendors have been developing CFX, and we need to bring the context to that data because machines only know what happens inside. What's in it for the machine vendors is the ability to see beyond the four walls of their machine or, in some machine vendors' case, the four walls of their software controlling the line. But they also want to know about the materials coming in from the warehouse. At some point, every vendor wants to know what's happening beyond—upstream or downstream on their line, what's blocking them; what their quality results are; where their materials are coming from; and their plans, schedules, and customers' needs. They want to optimize their machines automati - Michael Ford

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