Smart Factory Insights: Trends and Opportunities at SMTAI 2019

SMTAI is more than just a simple trade show. For me, it is an opportunity to meet face to face with colleagues and friends in the industry to talk about and discuss exciting new industry trends, needs, technologies, and ideas.

Many of these opportunities are accessible through the SMTAI conference program, which attracts strong interest from key companies in the industry. It is very valuable to have the opportunity to present and see the inspiration propagating around the room, gaining feedback from the audience members. Industry trends are made by people—a collective of opinion, experience, and aspiration. A key strength of SMTAI is the way in which everyone can engage with speakers and discussion groups, providing real business benefits.

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Of particular interest this year was the chance to speak with the SMTAI “Young Professionals in the Industry” group. With many years of pioneering technology and experience behind us, it is a different prospect today for young people entering the industry. The SMTAI group of young professionals showed themselves to be very clever and highly motivated, which should make them perfect candidates in a variety of key roles within manufacturing. Getting recognition of their potential contribution, however, can be challenging, where experience has driven value for a long time. In a new digital world of manufacturing, there is a need for new perspectives, which the young professionals have in abundance. Communication is the critical tool, aiding in understanding the nature of potential roles, as well as being able to show abilities to take it forward, building on what has already been created.

On the show floor, to the untrained eye, everything appears as expected—machines and solutions, both smarter, faster, and more efficient than ever before. The real opportunity, however, was talking with the people at the booths. Beyond the catchy headlines and graphics, some seriously clever people were there to talk about the values and opportunities that their latest technologies represent. In this age of IIoT-based connected digital factory, opportunities for software—at the machine, line, factory, and enterprise levels—have never been so exciting. Almost everyone has fresh, new ideas on the use of data connection to drive better quality and performance, bringing factory silos together as a holistic manufacturing “engine.”

As the show features so many different technologies, it is the role of the media companies to search out and highlight key areas of interest to the industry. I always look forward to participating in interviews and round-table discussions at SMTAI. The energy and momentum shared at the show are contagious, even with those who could not attend but can watch the various videos online. Such interviews get behind the marketing headlines to gain knowledge and insight into the benefits and opportunities, showing how each of the technologies is contributing to shaping the way of the industry going forward.

SMTAI represents a great balance of values, with a broad reach over the global industry; it’s a “must-attend” event for those seeking to differentiate themselves in the industry.

Michael Ford is the senior director of emerging industry strategy for Aegis Software.

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2019

Smart Factory Insights: Trends and Opportunities at SMTAI 2019

10-14-2019

SMTAI is more than just a simple trade show. For me, it is an opportunity to meet face to face with colleagues and friends in the industry to talk about and discuss exciting new industry trends, needs, technologies, and ideas.

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Smart Factory Insights: Recognizing the Need for Change

09-24-2019

We are reminded many times in manufacturing, that "you cannot fix what you cannot see" and "you cannot improve what you cannot measure." These annoying aphorisms are all very well as a motivational quip for gaining better visibility of the operation. However, the reality is that there is a lot going on that no-one is seeing.

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Accelerating Tech: Standards-driven, Digital Design Flow for Industry 4.0

04-24-2019

The term “fragmented manufacturing” is a good way to describe current assembly manufacturing challenges in an Industry 4.0 environment. Even in Germany, productivity reportedly continues to decline. To reach the upside of Industry 4.0, data flows relating to design play a major role—one that brings significant opportunity to the overall assembly business.

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The Truth Behind AI

02-28-2019

The term "artificial intelligence" or "AI" has become a source of confusion for many—heralded as part of Industry 4.0, yet associated with the threat of automation replacing human workers. AI is software rather than hardware, and it's time to put these elements of AI into context, enabling us as an industry to embrace the opportunities that so-called AI represents without being drawn in, or pushed away, by the hype.

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2018

Resolving the Productivity Paradox

12-22-2018

The productivity paradox continues to thrive. To a growing number of people and companies, this does not come as a surprise because investment in automation alone is still just an extension of Industry 3.0. There has been a failure to understand and execute what Industry 4.0 really is, which represents fundamental changes to factory operation before any of the clever automation and AI tools can begin to work effectively.

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The Truth About CFX

10-23-2018

A great milestone in digital assembly manufacturing has been reached by having the IPC Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) industrial internet of things (IIoT) standard in place with an established, compelling commitment of adoption. What's the next step?

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Advanced Digitalization Makes Best Practice, Part 2: Adaptive Planning

08-27-2018

For Industry 4.0 operations, Adaptive Planning has the capability of replacing both legacy APS tools, simulations, and even Excel solutions. As time goes on, with increases in the scope, quality and reliability of live data coming from the shop-floor, using for example the CFX, it is expected that Adaptive Planning solutions will become progressively smarter, offering greater guidance while managing constraints as well as optimization.

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Advanced Digitalization Makes Best Practice Part 1: Digital Remastering

07-02-2018

As digitalization and the use of IoT in the manufacturing environment continues to pick up speed, critical changes are enabled, which are needed to achieve the levels of performance and flexibility expected with Industry 4.0. This first part of a series on new digital best practices looks at examples of the traditional barriers to flexibility and value creation, and suggests new digital best practices to see how these barriers can be avoided, or even eliminated.

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Configure to Order: Different by Design

01-15-2018

Perhaps in the future, sentient robots looking back at humans today will consider that we were a somewhat random bunch of people as no two of us are the same. Human actions and choices cannot be predicted reliably, worse even than the weather. As with any team however, our ability to rationalize in many different ways in parallel is, in fact, our strength, creating a kind of biological “fuzzy logic.”

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2017

Counterfeit: A Quality Conundrum

10-01-2017

There is an imminent, critical challenge facing every manufacturer in the industry. The rise in the ingress of counterfeit materials into the supply chain has made them prolific, though yet, the extent is understated. What needs to be faced now is the need for incoming inspection, but at what cost to industry, and does anyone remember how to do it?

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