Industry 4.0 has become a buzzword, but many people are wondering— what does the factory of the future actually look like? What does i4.0 mean for PCB manufacturing? These are big questions and not always the easiest to answer.
The best way to grasp the potential and the practicalities of digitalization is to see i4.0 in action. I recently visited our customer, ROJ Electronics, to do just that. While there, I made a video demonstrating the entire digitalized PCB manufacturing process, from the bare board to delivery to end-customers.
ROJ was the perfect site to explain digitalization. The company is a veteran electronics and systems designer and producer in Italy. Like most electronics designers and producers, before digitalization they were facing the challenge of high mix, low volume demand—their order intake was upwards of 150 a month, and their lot sizes were small, averaging under 500 units. The frequent new product introductions (NPIs) were extremely time-consuming and error prone, making it difficult for the ROJ team to meet the demand.
Fully automated PCB assembly process
In addition, the Siemens data connectivity, intra-plant logistics and big-data analytics application connects, monitor and control the entire production floor. The difference is fully apparent in the video. Aside from me narrating the process, there are hardly any people on the production floor at ROJ— the entire process is completely automated. In the video, you can see how. the solution keeps track of material use on every machine and prevents bottlenecks from occurring when materials are depleted optimizing change-over times.
When people talk about Industry 4.0, they often say it’s the factory of the future. At ROJ, it’s not future; it’s today!
Watch the video below and leave a comment to let me know what you think.