With the recent implementation of smart factories, a great deal of changes took place in the operations of Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS) companies.
Smart factories lead to fundamental changes for Electronic Manufacturing Service providers (automotive PCBA manufacturers, industrial electronics manufacturers, green technology PCBA manufacturers, etc.): no matter the sector, smart factories bring new aspects to manufacturing processes, even allowing these processes to be applied to new fields and to the manufacturing of new products, such as smart city manufacturers, smart home manufacturers, and connected device manufacturers. Electronic contract manufacturing companies must evolve to meet new needs.
Machine-to-Machine Communication and Automation
With smart factories, the manufacturing process is completely automated to achieve a specific objective. At first glance, smart factories may seem similar to regular factories, but by adding aspects of smart technology and the Internet of Things, machines communicate together or through Cloud computing in order to achieve the same objective. This machine-to-machine (M2M) aspect is the main characteristic of smart factories. For a contract manufacturing company, machine-to-machine communication leads to many changes in the manufacturing process.
Automation in Electronic Manufacturing Services is beneficial when a task is repetitive. This allows a similar quality of production ideal for mass production. Automation and M2M communication are especially helpful to complete certain tasks with complex specifications. Automation reduces costs since the machines are programmed with learning logarithms, and a robotic system replaces human operators.
Change Within EMS Companies’ Operations
Internal Specifications of a Smart Factory
To be competitive, an electronics manufacturing company must integrate automation processes within its smart factory. This integration requires radical changes, especially in terms of its operations. These changes can be considered to be a form of management—nowadays, people are not being managed, machines and networks are. The challenge of an electronic contract manufacturer or an Electronic Manufacturing Services company is to adapt traditional horizontal and vertical management methods to robots, software, and networks.
In an EMS company, the different services connected to the supply chain must communicate, since each step has an impact on the next, and consequently on the final production. From PCBA engineering, design, and manufacturing to new product introduction on the market, each step of production is validated by a control system. This system indicates that a task is complete and that the following system can now work to accomplish its assignment. For this, a vertical network must be set up. Smart factories take this aspect into account.
On an international level, process compliance must be very strict to ensure the quality of production. A horizontal network built for machine management must also be implemented. Managing quality and risk simultaneously is one of the major challenges in ensuring the efficiency of the manufacturing process. Thus, machine-to-machine communication must be managed very precisely.
Thanks to smart supply chain solutions, several electronic contract manufacturing companies provide intelligent supply chain management, permitting the “smart” automation of processes. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are at the source of such smart supply chain solutions.
Competition Resulting From Smart Factories
The establishment of Industry 4.0 has led to several challenges for contract manufacturing companies. Companies are responsible for making a plan in order to stay competitive and up to date on recent technological advancements. EMS companies without a plan to invest in equipment leading to cost-effective manufacturing and to enhancing services will not be present for the next industrial revolution.
Looking to the Future: Electronic Manufacturing Services
The role of Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS) companies and contract manufacturers is to anticipate needs and demand. When such demand comes directly from the end consumer, the stakes are higher. For example, being able to manufacture micro-components or nano-components to create ultramodern specific products requires flexible electronic manufacturing solutions.
Smart factories began to appear with the arrival of Industry 4.0. This latest industrial revolution where the Internet controls all allows machines to communicate and carry out the manufacturing process without being managed by a human operator.