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i4.0, Are We Really Ready?



i4.0, Are We Really Ready?
This paper evaluates SMT production and inspection machines and attempts to define their potential to act as ‘smart sensors’, the first building blocks towards i4.0.
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Authored By:


Keith Bryant
Keith Bryant Consultancy
Johannesburg, South Africa

Summary


The Internet of Things, as a concept, was officially named in 1999. One of the first examples of an Internet of Things was a Coca Cola machine, located at the Carnegie Melon University. Local programmers would connect by Internet to the refrigerated appliance and check to see if there was a drink available, and if it was cold, before making the trip.

The term "Industrie 4.0" was used for the first time in 2011 at the Hannover Fair. In October 2012 the Working Group on Industry 4.0 presented a set of implementation recommendations to the German federal government.

Industry 4.0" refers to the concept of factories in which machines are augmented with wireless connectivity and sensors, connected to a system that can visualise the entire production line and make decisions on its own. Industry 4.0 fosters what has been called a "smart factory". Within modular structured smart factories, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. Over the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real-time both internally and across organizational services offered and used by participants of the value chain.

So, it’s been around for a while and is well defined with the keys being connectivity and ‘smart sensors’ to monitor and feedback data, we also see that this is NOT ‘lights out factory’ as it also mentions communicating and cooperating with humans, but not at what level.

This paper will evaluate SMT production and inspection machines and attempt to define their status and potential to act as ‘smart sensors’, the first building blocks towards i4.0, this will lead to the answer to the question in the title.

Conclusions


While some areas of PCBA manufacture are moving towards i4.0 there are some major obstacles to overcome before we get to a full lights out factory.

By combining In-Line and At-Line inspection we are able to improve first time pass yield and monitor line build quality in ‘real time’, this reduces costs and improves efficiency. However operators and technicians are still required for the process, but they are used very efficiently and make a significant contribution to the cost down.

As there is still a strong drive from the customers and the equipment companies i4.0 will move closer to full implementation, but currently the linking of in-line and at-line technologies gives us the biggest ROI in this arena.

Initially Published in the SMTA Proceedings

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