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32 SMT Magazine • May 2017 The trend today for consumers is clear- ly moving away from mass-produced goods to personalized goods made in a mass-produced way. The sheer number of variants and options in current products is testament to the expec- tations that modern consumers have. This ap- plies to software as well as hardware, as "users" expect many options to tweak how applications look and operate. Often however, the available options or configuration doesn't go far enough. Opening systems up for direct data access risks reliability and security as customers of sophisti- cated manufacturing systems want to integrate and customize their solutions by going direct- ly to system databases. Hearing from suppliers that certain data is not available for external use is not well received. The risk versus flexibility argument needs to be resolved, with a fresh ap- proach. A couple of years ago, I spec'd a new car, something reliable to get me to the airport on time, every time, and something that I could enjoy. Having chosen the model, there were the options to choose from, which together creat- ed literally millions of different specification combinations. Being from a tech background, I was tempted by a few of the cleverer yet rea- sonably priced features on offer. Here is where I then learned that even the best-in-class auto- motive manufacturers in Europe don't have a truly Lean business. It took many weeks for my car to be scheduled into production, and a few more after that to be delivered. Sure, the final assembly line itself is Lean; we know the sup- pliers of the electronic sub-assemblies are Lean- er than ever before, but the customer ordering process is anything but Lean. Here is where the waste is cleverly hidden, having customers on the hook for payment, paying for the impres- sion of Lean. How many people choose instead to go for an alternative simpler and quicker pro- cess? Many, I suspect. by Michael Ford MENTOR GRAPHICS CORPORATION If It's My Data, I Can Do What I Want, Right? THE ESSENTIAL PIONEERS'S SURVIVAL GUIDE

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