SMT Solver: Industrial Revolution 4.0—Hype, Hope, or Reality?

If you are in the electronics industry—and I am assuming you are because why else would you be reading this column—you cannot help but notice the discussion about Industry 4.0, whether you are reading technical magazines or attending physical or virtual shows or conferences. No matter what the subject, if it piques your interest, some of you may move from noticing it to wondering about it and may even graduate to digging deeper into that subject. 

This is what happened to me when I attended IPC APEX EXPO 2019. If you attended the same conference in 2020, you may have noticed a very prominent focus on Industry 4.0 and extensive effort by IPC on developing multiple standards to make the transition to Industry 4.0 faster and easier. In this column, I want to discuss Industry 4.0 as I understand it. I welcome your comments about my interpretation of Industry 4.0.

As we all know, standards make the transition to any new technology faster and cost-effective for the entire industry. The core mission of IPC is to build electronics better by developing standards. As we also know, IPC does not discover anything—the members do—and when they decide to share their knowledge, IPC develops standards to make progress faster and easier so that everyone in the industry benefits. IPC has released multiple IPC standards related to Industry 4.0 (Table 1). Some of them are old and going through revision, and others are new. 

prasad_1_0720.jpg

Historically, it took about 100 years to move from the First Industrial Revolution or Industry 1.0 (use of steam power, mechanization, weaving) around the time of the American Revolution and its resulting independence (during the 1780s, give or take few years) to the Second Industrial Revolution or Industry 2.0 (introduction of electricity, assembly lines, mass production) around the time of the abolishment of slavery (not the real end, but at least on paper) from 1860–1870.

We had to wait another 100 years before transitioning to the Third Industrial Revolution or Industry 3.0 (introduction of the integrated circuit by Intel; use of electronics, computers, automation) in the 1960s, around the time my generation was graduating from high school or college, moving to Canada, or finding some medical excuses or admission to higher education to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War.

Now, we have been in the Industry 3.0 era for about 50 years. If history is a good guide, you would think we need to wait for another 50 years before talking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0, but we don’t want to wait for anything. Whatever we need, we need it now. We don’t have time to go and pick it up; someone had better deliver what we need to us at our doorstep. We are busy at home, doing what we do, such as writing columns, or attending Zoom meetings.

This is why the title of this column is “Industrial Revolution 4.0: Hype, Hope, or Reality?” Before I expand on my point of view on Industry 4.0, here is my take. At this time, we have all three elements when we talk about Industry 4.0: some hype, a lot of hope, and a little bit of reality. I do not think it will be a reality in the next 3–4 years, but maybe in the next 10 years, and it is an optimistic view. However, it is still a very fast transition to a new way of doing things, considering the history of the previous two revolutions of Industry (1.0 and 2.0) that I mentioned.

The main reason for a much faster transition from Industry 3.0 to Industry 4.0 (about 60 years instead of the usual 100 years) is that the First and Second Industrial Revolutions were all about hardware change. The third revolution—Industry 3.0 about electronics and computers—started as a hardware revolution but has been morphing more and more into a software revolution. From the same hardware coming out of Intel and other semiconductor companies, the software companies are able to get more performance, and it is reflected in their relative stock prices. And this Fourth Industrial Revolution is essentially all about software. 

I should also note that this Industry 4.0 is not a drastic change if you really think about it since this change in software has been with us for the last 30–40 years. All we are trying to do is let the software play a major role in making the hardware do things faster with no waste. It is a lot easier to make things in your head before really making it. In Industry 4.0, we are not only trying to imagine and build digitally but even test it digitally to make sure it works, costs less, and is of high quality before really making it. 

What Is Industry 4.0?
Both manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise resource planning software (ERP) have the ability to work together. Since both types of software bring different capabilities to the forefront, using them together can help bring your business more well-rounded results. ERP knows why decisions need to be made, while an MES knows how to make those decisions. Both systems have their own purpose, which can make them complementary components. This is what we are doing while we are in Industry 3.0 today. 

Industry 4.0 connects ERP and MES to the machines on the shop floor, creating a two-way information-sharing system among all three layers: ERP, MES, and shop floor. It will connect suppliers, logistics, networks, and the industrial internet of things (IIoT) to physical manufacturing to collect and use data to make decisions—with or without human intervention—to improve quality and reliability and reduce cost. Think of Industry 4.0 as a digital factory that connects every layer of business to enable a lights-out factory to be possible someday. 

Here is a simple example. In a 4.0 Factory, an AOI system will detect a problem and then tell the offending machine to automatically take corrective actions without human intervention. I don’t think anyone is really there today. In addition, machine vendors are not happy—in normal cases—when customers want automated adjustments; they prefer that a trained operator would confirm where a pattern has emerged, but we are far from that destination. It is better to think of Industry 4.0 as a journey and not a destination.

Let us take an example of what happens in a typical SMT line. In SMT assembly, there are three major process steps: print paste, place components, and then solder. On a manufacturing line, the defects could be caused at any of these process steps (and many other things, such as DFM and incoming material quality, that we are not even talking about, to keep this example simple). It is possible that an AOI machine can detect misplacement and give instructions to a placement machine to take corrective action without human intervention. Some AOI and some placement machine companies work together to provide an auto solution without human intervention. Some companies are working on these features, and I am sure we will all hear when and if they work. 

It is possible to take corrective action in the pick-and-place machine, but most of the SMT defects don’t come from a pick-and-place machine. Most defects are related to paste volume, which is controlled by the stencil. It is very difficult to take corrective action on the spot for the paste printer from the feedback it may get from paste inspection systems. And it would be even more challenging to take corrective action in a reflow machine. 
But we don’t need to set the bar so high either, considering where most companies are today. For example, many companies collect lots of data, plot charts and graphs, and hang them on the wall, and leave them hanging there for the visitors to see but not necessarily diagnose the problem or take corrective action.

Conclusion
Let me conclude on a positive note. Manufacturers often collect descriptive data (“What happened?”) and diagnostic data (“Why did it happen?”) about their machines and devices, but with Industry 4.0’s end-to-end digitization, they can also gain predictive (“What will happen?”) and prescriptive (“What action should I take?”) insights into the status of their operations. We all know it is not a reality today, but I don’t think it is total hype either. 

My sense is that it is a genuine hope based on some insights into what is possible. This is why IPC is doing its best to pave the way for the transition to Industry 4.0. I also want to mention one other organization—the Manufacturing Technology Center (MTC) in the U.K.—where member companies have put in considerable resources and brainpower to work on Industry 4.0. You can learn more about what they’re doing here.  Also, if you are interested and want to learn more about Industry 4.0 or actively participate, contact Chris Jorgensen at IPC.

This column originally appeared in the July 2020 issue of SMT007 Magazine.

Back

2020

SMT Solver: Industrial Revolution 4.0—Hype, Hope, or Reality?

08-02-2020

If you are in the electronics industry, you cannot help but notice the discussion about Factory 4.0. Ray Prasad discusses Factory 4.0 as he understands it and invites readers' comments on his interpretation.

View Story

SMT Solver: Developing a Reflow Profile

05-15-2020

Developing a reflow profile involves ensuring all solder joints reach the minimum temperature to achieve good solder joints but don’t exceed maximum temperature to prevent damage to components or to solder joints. This is not an easy task. Ray Prasad provides specific guidelines and rules for developing a unique profile for each product without any damage and warpage to components and boards and with minimum possible profile related defects.

View Story

SMT Solver: Developments in BTC Guidelines: IPC-7093A, Pt. 1

04-15-2020

As the chair of this IPC committee, let me share the latest developments in bottom-terminated component (BTC) design and assembly guidelines in this three-part series. In this first column, I will give you an overview of this technology and standard. In my upcoming columns, I will take an in-depth look at the design, assembly, quality, and reliability issues in BTC technology that have been incorporated in this latest IPC-7093A revision.

View Story

SMT Solver: Dealing With Package Parasitics

02-03-2020

Packaging technology has constantly evolved over the decades from through-hole package to SMT with ever-decreasing pitches. There are many factors that play a role in the selection of a package, such as their cost and physical size, but the role package parasitics play in package selection has not changed over many decades.

View Story

SMT Solver: Choosing the Right Defect

01-17-2020

Ray Prasad addresses some key issues that are important for all of us to be aware of and learn about, especially for managers in SMT assembly and engineers who aspire to be future managers. Topics covered include choosing the right defect and developing a DFM and process recipe.

View Story
Back

2019

SMT Solver: Today’s Soldering Options

11-22-2019

If you have to deal with mixed-assembly boards with both surface-mount and through-hole components—as is the case today for more than 95% of electronic products—the selection of a soldering process becomes more complex, especially if you use both tin-lead and lead-free components on the same board.

View Story

SMT Solver: How Standards Impact You and Your Company

11-06-2019

Standardization is one of the key issues in promoting any new technology, but it is almost mandatory for SMT because of the need for automation to promote consistency in quality. Standards make the market grow faster than it would without them. A good standard benefits both users and suppliers. For example, if the package size tolerances are tightly controlled (within the requirement of the standard), the user can properly design the land pattern and use the same design for all suppliers of that package.

View Story

SMT Solver: Would You Prefer Shorts or Opens in Your Products?

07-29-2019

Would you prefer shorts or opens in your products? Of course, neither. But what if you do have to choose? Ray Prasad says he would choose a more desirable defect, if there is such a thing. But what is a desirable defect? A defect that would never escape inspection and test and would be caught before shipping the product to the customer. Read on why.

View Story

SMT Solver: Benchmarking Defect Levels in Your Products

06-17-2019

In this column, Ray Prasad discusses why zero defects may be a desirable goal but not a realistic one. He also shares some industry data as proof, which you can also use to benchmark defect levels in your products. Finally, he also addresses the choices when selecting components that have a big impact on the level of defects you should expect.

View Story

SMT Solver: Assemblers Can Help Customers Reduce Cost, Improve Reliability

05-08-2019

It is commonly assumed that the level of defects is primarily dependent on how the assemblers control their manufacturing processes. This sort of mistaken belief will cause you to never find the root cause of the problem. Hence, the problem will persist forever. And just because defects are discovered in manufacturing does not mean that they were created in manufacturing. Find out why.

View Story
Back

2014

Flux Classification

02-15-2014

In the previous column, I discussed flux functions and general considerations in their selection. In my next three columns, I will review various types of fluxes.

View Story

Major Types of Fluxes

01-20-2014

Organic acid (OA) fluxes are stronger than rosin fluxes but weaker than inorganic fluxes.

View Story
Copyright © 2020 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.