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90 SMT Magazine • June 2014 by Michael Ford MenTor graphiCS Valor diViSion THe eSSenTIAL PIOneeR'S SuRvIvAL guIDe CoLuMn Is It OK To Be Human? Automotive manufacturing once led the in- dustry to build products of the highest quality at consumer-level competitive pricing. With the quantity and complexity of electronics in- creasing almost exponentially in automotive manufacturing, market quality issues, includ- ing recalls, continue apace, while the demand grows for a more modern manufacturing de- livery profile that reflects the changing needs of the customer. After being stagnant for many years and adopting production principles based on process qualification and repeatability, can automotive find a new way forward, with qual- ity assurance and cost competitiveness, but also with flexibility, which is most critical now? Is it the risk of human error that has prevented the industry from moving forward toward highly reactive processes, such as those mandated by Industry 4.0? The Opportunity for Automotive The automobile continues to enjoy a spe- cial position in the consumer market. For many people, a car is a necessity and represents a ma- jor part of their personal expenditure. This can easily be justified because a significant part of many people's lives are spent in the car, and this is the time when they are on view to the widest audience in society. The car has become a social vehicle, driven by fashion and personal desires, as well as by performance and costs. Car makers have provided buyers with many choic- es of models with a huge amount of variants and options. Buyers can effectively have the automaker build something that matches their precise wants and needs, and yet is affordable. For many high-end models, it can be rare to find any two cars with the exact same specifica- tion. For the factories, this means that every car made is, to a significant extent, built to order. Technology has developed in a favourable way for the automotive industry. Driver focus is enhanced by systems that now automate things that the driver once had to control manually: the timing of wipers, the number of indications that are made, maintaining the cabin tempera-

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