It sounds so perfect—“smart” manufacturing. That must be what we’ve needed all along! We’ve had enough of this “average intelligence” manufacturing. Yes, we’ve heard quite a bit of chatter about smart manufacturing over the past few years. Whatever “smart” means to you, everyone involved in designing, fabricating, and assembling PCBs wants to get on board.
The PCB community in the U.S. often feels like it’s a little behind the curve compared to other industries, and that’s definitely the case here. Manufacturers in Asia have already seen gains in efficiency, productivity, and sustainability by adopting integrated, collaborative, data-driven processes. The North American PCB fabrication community is playing catch-up regarding smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0.
At the same time, many U.S. PCB designers are curious about what this smart new world means to them and their “old-school” CAD data. Fabricators in the states can also be forgiven for wondering the same thing, especially when CAM departments receive so many inaccurate or incomplete design data packages. Is PCB design ready for smart manufacturing? What are designers going to have to do differently for OEMs to take full advantage of smart technologies, such as Industry 4.0 and IPC’s Connected Factory Exchange (CFX)?
We asked some of our expert contributors to share their thoughts and opinions about smart manufacturing and what this means for the PCB designers and design engineers on the front end.
To read this entire column, which appeared in the April 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.