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56 SMT007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2019 The deep, technical skills and knowledge of today become the building blocks of tomor- row. Naturally evolving layers of technological applications allow us to build and make prog- ress, layer by layer, rather than staying rela- tively stagnant with only incremental improve- ment. To gain ground in manufacturing, we need to embrace next-layer hardware and soft- ware technologies now, which have accumu- lated knowledge built in, so that we can focus on applying these solutions as part of a digital factory. A whole new set of skills and knowl- edge is required to learn and become an expert in evolving strategies and techniques to do this, attracting a whole new generation of manufac- turing career opportunities. What You No Longer Need to Learn Layers of Technologies Not so long ago, relatively speaking, the peo- ple who were at the forefront of inventing the humble transistor were very excited. Numer- ous applications of transistorized applications appeared on the horizon that would revolu- tionize the electronics industry. Once the use of transistors had become established, how- ever, the focus quickly changed towards the packaging of multiple transistors into standard encapsulated functional blocks, which became known as integrated circuits (ICs). These put hundreds, thousands, and then millions of transistors together in a little black plastic package. The need for knowledge of how to make a transistor faded into becoming a com- mon understanding; the active focus in the industry was now on chip design. Product designers today have over 95% of their designs done for them—embedded within the complex chip-sets that they utilize and apply as a commodity—with- out a lot of thought about the complex- ity of the internal design and content. We are still looking for better transistors, better semi-conduc- tor design, and bet- Smart Factory Insights Feature Column by Michael Ford, AEGIS SOFTWARE

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