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60 SMT007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2019 activities no longer need to learn to be experts in statistics, quality metrics, record-keeping, and reporting. The need for an expensive layer of engineering specialization is replaced with an embedded solution. This example repeats over and over throughout the entire scope of digital IIoT-based MES solutions. What You Really Need to Learn It is now a question of the focus of resources. Indirect labor fixed cost has always been a key factor in manufacturing success, which, ironi- cally, has caused a reluctance, in most cases, to recruit and assign what initially is seen as additional people to work with and understand the application of sophisticated machines and software solutions. They can create much value and opportunity, and even the most pro- gressive of companies do not realize the full potential. Rather than getting into a position of knowl- edge and trusting in modern tools, the assign- ment of lower-layer engineering continues based on old practices. In almost any manufac- turing facility, there are sure to be cases where machines, their software, and tools, such as MES, are capable of automating and replac- ing routine, and often specialist, daily work- load tasks from being needlessly performed. If only time and resources were available to fully understand and appreciate what tools are out there, the focus of attention could be shifted towards the best practice use of appli- cation of those tools; this would eliminate a great deal of needless work and bring greatly increased capacity, productivity, and quality with reduced lead-time and waste. Thus, the first thing to learn is that which no longer needs to be learned. Old practices should each be revisited, requalified, and jus- tified in the context of what the latest process hardware and IIoT-based MES software pro- vides. It is often a mistake to look for such solutions based on internally created lists of issues that people feel should be addressed. Many of the items in these lists will be fixes for practices that are, in all likelihood, no longer relevant. It is far more rewarding in terms of an evolutionary leap to identify sources of innova- tion in the market that lead and create the next layer application of technologies and provide the best insight into the smartest investments. Let's start learning! SMT007 Michael Ford is the senior director of emerging industry strategy for Aegis Software. To read past columns or contact Ford, click here. Oren Manor, director of business development for Siemens, introduces us to the in-booth production equipment that integrates factory automation, motion controls, and MES solu- tions. He points out that the recent effort to automate SMT lines is now expand- ing into the areas of final assembly, box build, and manual assembly as well. Oren Manor on the Siemens-Mentor Integration

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