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32 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2023 Automation plays a key role in factory effi- ciencies by lowering cost and improving yields, all of which are good for business and sustain- ability. Does factory size matter? Can automa- tion be incremental and still be effective? Jeff Forster, SMT product manager at Technica USA, shares his insight on factory automation. Barry Matties: Jeff, when it comes to automa- tion, what should we be thinking about? First let me say that Technica is involved in automation in both the PCB fab and PCB assembly markets. I will focus our conversa- tion today on the PCB assembly side of our business. I like to break down automation into a cou- ple of areas including the assembly equipment The Role of 'Sustainable' Automation hardware and soware automation that ranges from the line level to multi-factory level. e assembly equipment line hardware and so- ware have abilities to communicate upstream and downstream of the SMT line to optimize the process "on the fly." For example, inspec- tion equipment now can communicate within the line to optimize the printing and place- ment processes. From a soware perspec- tive you have different levels of automation— multi-factory, individual factory, line level, and the actual equipment level (discussed pre- viously) of automation. For multinationals that have manufacturing facilities here in the U.S., as well as in Mexico, China, India, etc., fac- tory level automation comes into play because these facilities are building products for each of these markets. In many cases, these compa- Feature Interview by the I-Connect007 Editorial Team

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