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92 SMT Magazine • November 2016 by Stephen Las Marias I-CONNECT007 At the recent NEPCON South China event in Shenzhen, China, I was able to talk to James Liu, director of Standardization and Electronics Manufacturing at the Smart Factory Institute of the China Science and Technology Automa- tion Alliance (CSAA), about how they can help small- and medium-sized companies in China transform their production into smart factories. He explained the challenges that these compa- nies face, the future of automation in China, and the need for a free, open interface to con- nect disparate electronics manufacturing equip- ment and systems on the factory floor. Stephen Las Marias: James, tell me about the Smart Factory Institute and your role in the com- pany. James Liu: We use the Smart Factory name be- cause we can give the industry the total solu- tion for the smart factory. That's our mission, and that's my job, because I'm in charge of the electronics industry division. I was in IPC Chi- na for seven years, so I'm very familiar with the ACHIEVING THE SMART FACTORY VISION Chinese electronic industries. I want to develop a very useful solution for them, especially for the small- and medium-sized companies. Our solution is quite different from the oth- ers. Many people know about smart factories. A very popular example is Siemens' Chengdu factory, a one-brand smart factory because all the equipment is made by Siemens. So it was easy to bring them together. In China, the sit- uation is quite different. Almost every compa- ny uses various brands of equipment—different brands of screen printers, chip mounters, AOIs, and so on. It's difficult to link them into one system. However, in the electronic industry, au- tomation right now is getting better. The con- cept of smart factories is automation plus cyber physical systems (CPS). That means we use the industrial Ethernet to link every piece of equip- ment. For Siemens, it's very easy because they manufactured all the equipment; but in China, it's very difficult because of the different equip- ment suppliers and the closed interface. Our so- lution is to develop a new interface that is free and open for the industry. That it my main job. Las Marias: What would a smart factory look like for a small company here? INTERVIEW

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