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Feature Interview by Dan Beaulieu At IPC APEX EXPO 2020, Dan Beaulieu spoke with Michael Ford, senior director of emerging industry strategy at Aegis Software, about ma- chines talking to machines using IPC-CFX, as well as strategies to turn any factory with old or new equipment into a smart factory. Dan Beaulieu: Michael, you're with Aegis Soft- ware, which is one of the foremost-thinking companies in our industry, taking us into the future of smart manufacturing and smart fac- tories. Can you expand on that? Michael Ford: It's a really exciting time because we have been talking about smart factories and Industry 4.0 for quite a while now, and com- panies have been exploring how to get start- ed. Companies discuss how many connections they think they're going to need, how many machines to talk to each other, and then they find out the cost and say, "Game over. That's it. Stop. I'm not interested anymore." It's mil- lions and millions of dollars of investment. That kind of proprietary interface is making Industry 4.0 a non-starter, but now we have a combination of technologies that makes smart 50 PCB007 MAGAZINE I FEBRUARY 2020 manufacturing available for free. It sounds too good to be true, but it is be- cause it's kind of three layers. Step one is you start at the base layer with IPC-CFX (con- nected factory exchange). Instead of paying $30,000 per machine connection, for example, with IPC-CFX you get the data natively from the machine vendor for free—fully featured and documented with all the details you need. Step two is you introduce the IIOT-based MES platform. This is going to build a context for all of that information. Of course, our soft- ware is not free—there will be a price tag—but all of the functions that we create within that MES environment brings a net return on in- vestment (ROI) within the year. Beaulieu: A one-year ROI? Ford: Exactly. Now, start to compare any oth- er model of smart manufacturing technology within that year, and that's impossible. Instead of companies seeing a price tag of millions and millions of dollars, that they have to carry on the balance sheet for many years, we say, "By the time you get to the end of the year, you're in profit." That is revolutionary because it means that companies can now seriously start One-year ROI: Smart Factory Implementations Michael Ford

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