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July, 2017


www.us-tech.com Here Come the Giants! By Philip Stoten (@philipstoten) W


hile progress has been made in the SMT smart factory sector over the past few years, we still don’t have a complete pic-


ture. As yet, we have no definitive machine-to-ma- chine (M2M) communication standard, and no sin- gle shining smart factory industry leader. Enter the giants! After the Hannover Fair, SMT Nuremberg,


RAPID + TCT, and other smaller events, such as the InnovationsFORUMs in Germany, Hungary and Mexico, we are seeing new players in the mar- ket. Industry titans, such as Microsoft, IBM, Intel, and HP are now actively filling the void. These companies are beginning to offer solutions that are likely to ac- celerate our journey to smart factory nirvana. At the Hannover Fair, Microsoft


had a large booth full of partners from design and manufacturing who showed an array of solutions created in partnership with its products and services. Jabil and Radius Innova- tion were at the booth showcasing the design work they have done with Microsoft using the HoloLens, accel- erating development through collabo- rative virtual reality. Two weeks later Jabil was again


sharing the spotlight, this time with HP at RAPID + TCT, an additive manufacturing event. The HP Fusion 3D printer looks likely to move addi- tive manufacturing from the proto- type and hobbyist to mass production and mass customization. With the ability to be controlled


remotely, total traceability and some amazing material science behind it, 3D printing has the potential to be a fundamental part of the manufactur- ing landscape, while achieving the all-important “lot size of one.” It also has the potential to change the geog- raphy of the industry, with much more distributed manufacturing clos- er to the end customer. Another example is the work


that IBM is doing in the field of arti- ficial intelligence (AI) with its super- computer Watson. This is being used in many environments, not least in factory automation and self-learning systems that can diagnose and man- age themselves to improve outcomes and efficiency. The challenges sur- rounding AI are looming in the boardrooms of many larger compa-


nies besides those listed above. Google, Facebook, Apple, NVIDIA, and just about every large tech- nology company, along with a good many non-tech- nical companies, are working on solutions.


We have no definitive machine-to- machine (M2M) communication standard, and no single shining smart factory industry leader. Enter the giants!


Giant Steps At CES this past January, Under Armor CEO


Kevin Plank said in his keynote that the company is opening an advanced manufacturing lab at its headquarters to explore better ways to make shoes and shirts, as well to develop products in the wear- able technology category. Large manufacturers are taking matters into their own hands, as are some of the bigger global contract manufacturers who seem frustrated by the speed with which parts of the manufacturing industry are developing.


Continued on page 31


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Philip Stoten is an internation- ally recognized EMS industry expert. Known for his skills as an inter viewer, reporter and


panel moderator, Philip is a fea- tured multi-media contributor to U.S. Tech on a regular basis.


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