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52 PCB007 MAGAZINE I FEBRUARY 2020 to introduce Industry 4.0, smart manufactur- ing, or whatever you want to call it. Beaulieu: Can you retrofit this, or does every- thing have to be new to set up? Ford: It is able to be retrofit in a couple of differ- ent ways. Obviously, the 400 machine vendors that are part of the IPC-CFX committee right now and their machines will be expected to have IPC-CFX. The software development kit (SDK), which is available from IPC, is completely free of charge. That can be slotted into existing ma- chines, even end-customer machines; they can use it themselves in their own systems. Then, there are the really old machines. The equipment manufacturers have been making machines that are too good (laughs). The ma- chines just keep going, and they're adding val- ue, so why replace them? Why do you need to invest money in new machines? There are two ways of doing it. One way is that from our software, we al- ready have hundreds of legacy machine inter- faces that can coexist seamlessly with IPC-CFX. In that case, there's no barrier to doing it. For other solutions, there are little interface boxes, where the machine has genuinely no commu- nication capability whatsoever. Further, there are third parties who are making a little box with the Raspberry Pi computer inside for less than $30. Next, you have an IO board, which is an- other $30. You put that in a box and buy it commercially. Seika is one company selling this right now, or you could just do it yourself. It's really simple, and then you have a little bit of firmware inside there. Especially since the software from IPC is completely free of charge, you are then upgrading that machine into the digital factory. Beaulieu: If I'm the operator at a 20-year-old PCB manufacturer with both new and old equipment, and am interested in this, what's the process? Ford: The first step is understanding what you want from smart manufacturing because ev- erybody has a different story. It depends on what they have read and who they have talked to, but let's focus on the business principles— the profit and the benefit that we want. Then, you can understand how to get there and what kind of functions you need. For instance, do you need to make faster decisions, reduce the material inventory, or make the lines more flexible by changing over quicker? Also, what are the key requirements? To achieve that, we have people in manufacturing with the brains that they know what to do, and we augment their decisions by providing infor- mation. We identify the precise sources of that information. Then, we go to IPC-CFX and our own repository of interfaces and start to build a structure of the solution that's going to de- liver that opportunity. Then you have a plan. IPC is there to help. They provide accredita- tion for machine vendors to provide IPC-CFX off the shelf without any issues. We simply "plug and play" those machines into our soft- ware. Within a very short time we have the de- ployment of a fully-featured, IOT-driven MES system. Beaulieu: How did you get to this point? Ford: It has been a challenge because the de- mand for value from the utilization of this da- ta has been there for quite a long time, but the way to get it for all players in the industry, not just us, has been extremely difficult. We spend about half of our total R&D budget on The equipment manufacturers have been making machines that are too good (laughs). The machines just keep going, and they're adding value, so why replace them?

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