Happy Holden Book Excerpt: CIM & Automation Strategy

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The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Happy Holden’s I-Connect007 eBook Automation and Advanced Procedures in PCB Fabrication. In this book, Happy explains fabrication automation with illustrative examples and anecdotes from his decades as a mechanization leader.

Chapter 1: CIM & Automation Strategy

There's a lot of talk about automation, but I find that there is very little available on automation planning. This is one of my specialties. I started by studying for an MSEE in control theory. This went well with my bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, because I specialized in process control and IC manufacturing.

This led me to take my first job at Hewlett-Packard. They wanted to automate their IC production line, even back in 1970. I discovered there were many companies offering equipment and software, but few had a strategy for how to automate. So we developed a methodology that has worked for very well over the years. In the next chapter, I will focus on computer-aided manufacturing and the connectivity issues with different protocols and available software.

Remember, the benefits will be derived only if certain cardinal principles are observed. This chapter briefly outlines the background of computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) and six automation principles: superiority, simplicity, flexibility, compatibility, manufacturability, and reliability.


The characteristics of successful automation application in manufacturing depend on how well business and technical management understand and promote the strategies, tactics, and philosophies used in modern manufacturing. Successful automation implementation can be enhanced in any company, small or large, by reviewing philosophies of CIM, automation, managements roles, mechanization, SPC, TQC, Lean, MRP and design for manufacturing.

Computer-Integrated Manufacturing (CIM)

The strategies outlined here are considered CIM, which HP was once in the business of selling. HP called it “The Manufacturers Productivity Network,” or MPN. These products included various software, computer, networking, interface, and measurement systems.

At that time, HP had been in the business longer than any other company. It started with government and other requests for automated test and measurement systems. Because of the need to automate various measurement instruments and systems, HP created the first machine-to-machine protocol called HP Interface Bus (HP-IB). This was later formulized into the IEEE-488 Communication Standard.

HP needed an instrument controller, so they purchased a unique 16-bit computer architecture from Union Carbide, which became the HP2116A in 1964. This computer was unique because the operating system was real-time, interrupt-driven, and had space for 16 interface cards for measurement instruments. What HP did not realize was that many companies were using the computer not with instruments, but with multiple input terminals and printers, creating the first time-share systems. Thus, HP created a smaller and lower-cost version called the HP2114A. This led to the world’s first time-share system, the HP2000.


To download Happy's free eBook from the I-Connect007 library, click here, or to order your print-on-demand copy, click here.

Check out all of the free eBooks in the I-Connect007 Library, covering PCB design, fabrication, assembly, and much more.   


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