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64 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2023 data collection and management, the ability to automate manufacturing lines becomes more attainable, from automated inventory control and dispatching of automated guided vehicles on the factory floor, to advanced outlier detec- tion and improved quality control. With increased data utilization, there is opportunity for tremendous job growth. I have seen companies grow over four times within the first two years of implementing a modern MES because it frees up engineers to focus on the technical things needed to improve the line, while enabling operators to take on more complex and higher value tasks. All this leads to better product, faster time to market, greater margins, and growth. Data collection and analytics are key to nav- igating today's supply chain challenges and market demands. With the ever-increasing electronics complexity of products manufac- tured today, it is now a requirement for main- taining a competitive edge. Today's engineers are coming out of col- lege with basic programming and data analyt- ics skills. It's an exciting time with so many new paths to be taken on this technical journey. SMT007 Reference 1. "Cleaning Big Data: Most Time-Consuming, Least Enjoyable Data Science Task, Survey Says," by Gil Press,, March 23, 2016. Mike Konrad is founder and CEO of Aqueous Technologies, and vice president of communications for SMTA. To read past columns, click here. Researchers at Linköping University and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed the world's first transistor made of wood. Their study, published in the journal PNAS, paves the way for further development of wood-based electronics and control of electronic plants. "We've come up with an unprecedented principle. Yes, the wood transistor is slow and bulky, but it does work, and has huge development potential," says Isak Engquist, senior associate professor at the Labo- ratory for Organic Electronics at Linköping University. The researchers used balsa wood to create their transistor, as the technology involved requires a grainless wood that is evenly structured throughout. They removed the lignin, leaving only long cellulose fibres with channels where the lignin had been. These channels were then filled with a conduc- tive plastic, or polymer, called PEDOT:PSS, resulting in an electrically conductive wood material. The researchers used this to build the wood tran- sistor and could show that it is able to regulate elec- tric current and provide continuous function at a selected output level. It could also switch the power on and off, albeit with a certain delay—switching it off took about a second; on, about five seconds. Possible applications could include regulating electronic plants, which is another strong research area at Linköping University. One advantage of the transistor channel being so large is that it could potentially tolerate a higher current than regular organic tran- sistors, which could be important for cer- tain future applications. "We didn't cre- ate the wood transistor with any specific application in mind. We did it because we could. This is basic research, showing that it's possible, and we hope it will inspire fur- ther research that can lead to applications in the future," said Isak Engquist. (Source: Linkoping University) The World's First Wood Transistor Credit: Thor Balkhed

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