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54 SMT007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2020 Feature by Happy Holden I-CONNECT007 Editor's Note: The following is the first of a five-part series, originally published in PCB007 Magazine, February 2020. "Smart factory" is another phrase that de- scribes Industry 4.0 programs. These programs seem to have replaced CIM and CAM, but it did not make them obsolete. While these top- ics are getting a lot of press, there is nothing new about them. We have been on a journey to automate manufacturing since the mid-'70s. What has evolved are faster and cheaper com- puters and more complex and integrated net- working. Meanwhile, the cost of wireless com- munications has dropped dramatically, and labor and materials costs have gone up. These conditions all foster a greater return for auto- mation, with the possibility of lights-out facto- ries with no environmental impact, leading to "lean and green" implementation. Strategy and Planning What hasn't changed over all these years is the need for a strategic plan to achieve a smart factory. While the investment in automation may be straightforward, the investment in integrating all these islands of automation clearly is not. The strategic planning for this integration is the major topic in the smart factory. Networking has advanced so much in the intervening years that it has now become an over-riding element of the new smart factory. These elements were introduced in the free I-Connect007 eBook Automation and Advanced Procedures in PCB Fabrication. Now, the elements are the islands of auto- mation. This important third axis involves ma- terial handling degree and network communi- cation extent between cells and work centers. Figure 1 shows the six stages of planning a smart factory. Most of the elements will be your current equipment and any new islands The Journey to an eSmart Factory, Part 1

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