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Industry 4.0 grants clear path towards smart manufacturing

Posted: 09 Jul 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Transworld Data? Internet of Things? supply chain? embedded system?

How important could this be to electronics manufacturers? LNS Research analyst Mike Roberts cites the complexity of today's global supply chains, where "More and more, companies have to juggle internal and external resources while staying within international standards. Issues such as traceability and compliance are increasing operational burdens. It is not unusual for components and sub-components to embark on a journey that touches three or more continents before reaching the end-consumer."

It is within this context that Germany is pushing its Industry 4.0 initiative, which it believes will further an "Industrial production of the future [that] will be characterised by the strong individualisation of products under the conditions of highly flexible (large series) production, the extensive integration of customers and business partners in business and value-added processes, and the linking of production and high-quality services leading to so-called hybrid products."

In the U.S., President Obama's 2014 commitment to create up to 145 manufacturing innovation institutes is taking root in projects like the Department of Defence's competition for a public-private innovation institute in flexible hybrid electronics, which combines $75 million of federal investment with $75 million or more of private investment. The project includes manufacture of products like wireless medical monitors, stretchable electronics for robotics and vehicles, smart bridges capable of alerting engineers at the first signs of trouble, and military applications like intelligent bandages and smart clothing that alert soldiers to first signs of injury or exhaustion.

As government sponsorship of smart manufacturing grows throughout the world and the private sector joins in, the electronics industry is likely to find itself at centre stage. The "centre stage billing" for electronics makes sense, as few industries are better positioned to take advantage of smart manufacturing's untapped potential.

- Mary E. Shacklett
??EE Times

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