Industry 4.0: Creating a Standard

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Matties: And the machines can be connected universally? And when I say universally, I don't mean from machine to machine in one factory, but across the globe—like being able to have my machine in Brazil talk to my machine in London.

Hoz: Without naming names, a customer of ours in Brazil that runs some programming for his product said, "Okay, I want to use this programming now in China, how do I do that?" We sent his manufacturing data package over to China and they got the programming, the set of instructions, and everything was documented. They went to the lines and programmed it and then started to manufacture the product.

Matties: This is part of the human machine interaction, and the idea is that we're really limiting that with 4.0, right? There's still an interaction, but it's reduced.

Hoz: Yes. We do see it happening and everything will be automated.  I think that we'll get more people or customers that say, "Okay, what about my job?"

Matties: What do you say to that?

Hoz: Everything is going to be automated, that's why we come in. We will be able to take you to the next level, to do something smarter that will challenge you but give you the opportunity to contribute more.

Matties: In some cases, the reality is those jobs might go away. That's just the reality, because we're reducing our labor by bringing in smarter systems.

Hoz: It's about lifestyle. We want to have a better lifestyle. We want to do things much easier than what we do today. We want to use a system to connect everything to each other. We will enable that. This will become much cheaper to buy, so maybe even the blue collar guy that works in the factory level, in order to buy this device, he has to work something like a month. Now, he will be able to work only two weeks, in order to get this device.

Matties: There's a benefit. I'm not arguing with that. The Whelen Factory that just came in America, in New Hampshire, was spending $7 million a year on circuit boards in China, and for $12 million they set up a facility that is completely automated. That factory normally, without that automation and 4.0, would have been maybe 80–100 people, and they're doing it with 17.

Hoz: Two weeks ago I was in China and I visited different customers there. They're all talking about Industry 4.0, or as they call it IT2. They were talking about automating everything, computerizing everything and they were saying that in 10 years, instead of people going on the lines there, it will be robots that make it faster.

Matties: Because they realized that labor rates was their competitive advantage, but that's gone. Down in Dongguan and those areas in some cases I have that the government is coming in and saying, "You can't hire people. You have to automate." They say it’s because they don't want more traffic on the roads, but what they don't want to do is lose the industry to India or Vietnam or somewhere else.

Hoz: They've gone through this transformation faster than anyone else, although they're carrying like 1.4 billion people behind them. So many people but they still want to put robots there. If you look at our results, you will see that the majority of our business today is generated through the Pacific Rim and the Japan area, not in the U.S. This is where the business is, with big volumes and many manufacturing sites. It might be an American logo and an American company, but the manufacturing won't be done there. They want to have the design in one place. Send it over here to Europe and then ship it then to South America or wherever.

Lavi Ben David: A few years ago investing in software in China was never even considered. The answer was to put in another line and put more people there. Today, they invest in software to increase their performance, utilization and efficiencies and this is seen clearly with our results.

Hoz: Another aspect of Industry 4.0 is from the design stage and this is the digital product model. Everything is digitalized. You get the design, the schematic and the layout. You get the X-ray shapes from our library and then compare the CAD and the BOM. You compare, and you see that there is a match there and you send it to the panel design. Everything is automated. You do the product summary and start giving work instructions to all of the machines, like line programming, documentation, and stencil design. You then start programming the SMT line and the other machines in the process. Everything is digitalized and sent to the assembly.

What's good about this is that when we are finished doing that is there is feedback. In Industry 4.0, you have to connect with everything. What do you do with that information and data? You have to have a system that can really take the feedback and bring it all the way back to the designers, so next time they designs there's improvement and you will find the manufacturing constraints in zero time. The feedback loop that we do is another angle for Industry 4.0.

Our vision and strategy is to try to get into this design to manufacturing flow everywhere and start connecting everything together. This is about connectivity and modularity that will enable manufacturers to decide what goes on each machine line of each factory. They don't need to go back to the ERP system. They can make their own decisions and say, "Okay, I'm in China, and I'm going to send this one to Brazil. They can do it there." This is about globalization, in a nutshell.

Lavi Ben David: The discussion around design in Industry 4.0 is how to make the manufacturing better, but once you get the design into manufacturing, eventually the manufacturer doesn't have a lot of space left. We want to make the design more intelligent and want to find more of the problems so when it goes to the manufacturers there are less mistakes and less chance that it will fail. In order to do that, you want to give feedback for the designer about the manufacturability of the processes—feedback on connecting the machines, collecting all the manufacturing data, and the result of the manufacturing process. By sending this back to the designer the design will be more intelligent. This is where we think Industry 4.0 will also benefit the design process itself.


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