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Editor’s note: The following article is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the I-Connect007 eBook The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to… Advanced Manufacturing in the Digital Age, written by Oren Manor of Siemens, a Siemens Business.
The foundation of a smart factory is data, and today’s factories are data-rich environments. No matter what size the operation, if manufacturers can emulate the technology giants and use analytics to make the most of their data, they can get further value out of the transformation to Industry 4.0.
Tony Hemmelgarn, president and CEO of Siemens Digital Industries Software, explains that by 2025, “We’ll have to cope with 100 billion connected devices, each with a dozen or so sensors collecting data. You must have smarter products and intelligent manufacturing, all producing data, which ironically creates a much more complex world that we have to deal with.”
The competitive advantage is no longer about the assembly process or discrete equipment selection, but it is about creating a smart factory that is able to convert these vast amounts of data into actionable and meaningful intelligence in real time. Manufacturing operations must be agile enough to use it to meet market demands that are in a constant state of flux.
As we have learned, more data does not necessarily lead to clearer insights and better decision-making. Access to masses of data can actually result in people and artificial intelligence (AI) systems drawing wrong conclusions or seeing connections between factors where none really exist. “Studies have shown that many of the correlations are just flat-out false; they don’t make sense,” says Hemmelgarn.
But that does not mean that big data should be avoided; it just needs to be managed and interpreted better and smarter. As a business, you want to move faster than your competition, lower development and production costs, respond to customer demands better, and create new business models to out-innovate the competition. The next step is to figure out how to use the complexity of all this data, and the many data points in your operations, as a competitive advantage.
Some of that data will be processed in the cloud, some at the edge, and some directly on a chip or a specific piece of equipment. Each of these areas will be examined. But the biggest challenge for each business is to make sense of all of the data they are gathering. Analytics based on that data are still being defined. The decision about what data points to monitor and collect is important to avoid drowning in unnecessary and irrelevant datasets.
To read the rest of The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to… Advanced Manufacturing in the Digital Age, click here. Visit the I-Connect007 eBook Library to download this book and other free, educational titles covering everything from high-speed PCB design to advanced manufacturing and assembly.