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IoM 2016 Hits the Right Note in Silicon Valley

By Philip Stoten

Jun 01, 2016

At The Tech Museum in Downtown San Jose, in the heart of Silicon Valley, Global SMT and Packaging Magazine and Scoop launched the first IoM (Internet of Manufacturing) event to explore the development of IoT in the electronics manufacturing industry.

With speakers and delegates from some of the world's largest brands, like Cisco and IBM, the Manufacturing sector, like Jabil, Foxconn, Flex, Sanmina and Zollner, and suppliers, like ASM, KIC, Mentor, Trego and Cogiscan present, the event was an immediate hit, and went quite some way to further the debate around IoM, Smart Factory and Industry 4.0.

A peek into the future

Delegates were treated to a preview and a look into the future of the connected world during a cocktail reception hosted by Jabil at their Blue Sky Center. One delegate told me that "She felt like she'd seen the future" after the tour of Jabil's facility, which as well as showcasing the latest technologies in manufacturing and consumer electronics, is a sand pit for innovators. Welcoming guests to the reception, Jabil VP of Marketing and Blue Sky GM, Joanne Moretti talked about "innovators showing up with an idea in the morning, having a design by lunchtime and a prototype before dinner", all thanks to rapid prototyping tools like 3D printing, robotic assembly, computer simulation, virtual reality, and much more.

Jabil were again front and center as the event opened with Global SMT & Packaging publisher, Trevor Galbraith, introducing their VP of Technology John Dulchinos as the keynote speaker. John kept the attention of the audience of more than one hundred with his insight into the rapidly changing world that we find ourselves in and the trends that impacted Jabil and their customers, not least in the way they manufacture and fulfill their clients' products and ideas. As well as the trend in IoM, John explored the impact of 3D printing, citing some great examples of how this technology was not only speeding up prototyping but also creating new business models with mass customization opportunities.

You can see my interview with John at their Blue Sky Center here:

The day was full of insight from technologists including, Mentor Graphics' Michael Ford, ASM's Hubert Egger, Cogiscan's François Monette, Trego Integrated Systems' James Trego and KIC's Mile Moreau, who offered a real world example of how IoM was being applied in a simple manageable project and driving real cost saving to one of their customers. These vendors are amongst those leading the technology that will make IoM work for manufacturers and they all spoke eloquently about the need for connected and open approaches that are collaborative and share common goals.

Outside of technology we heard from Riverwood Solutions' VP Akhil Oltikar, who talked about the impact of IoT throughout the supply chain. Riverwood Solutions are dozens of supply chain and manufacturing experts that help companies to optimize their products, their processes, their operations and their supply chains, working with the worlds largest brands and manufacturers. Akhil's experience and insight offers genuine on-the-ground knowledge of what is happening now and what can be achieved in the electronics supply chain.

After lunch, and in the second keynote spot was Kevin Sin from Foxconn, who spoke about their plans around what they have termed AIoT (the Artificial Intelligence of Things). An intriguing and rare insight into how this huge EMS thinks about automation. Kevin shared their programs around using virtual reality to support manufacturing, particularly around supporting, training and coaching staff. The use of face recognition is widely used to validate the operation of Foxconn's more than one million staff as well as video process recording to identify potential issues and improve processes. Inevitably Kevin talked a little about Foxconn's robotic program, which is a combination of internal development and collaboration with the established robotic industry. There is no doubt that robotics and automation have a big role in the future of Foxconn, who, according to recent figures represented more than 50% of the sales of the world's top fifty EMS companies.

Trevor Galbraith rounded the day off with an interactive debate as Jabil, Foxconn, ASM and Mentor joined him on the stage to explore some of the key issues and take questions from the audience. As expected the topic of open standards came up and was debated at some length. The panel also explored their vision of the future and some of the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and ROI (Return on Investment) measures that could be applied to the implementation of IoM.

IoM is a big and complex issue, but people are finally getting to grips with it and applying it, sometimes in smaller and sometimes in larger ways. The first step is the most important, as is a solid understanding of what it means to everyone on the value chain. Event's like IoM 2016 have a key role to play and this was a great start to getting this debate as a regular topic on the calendar.

You'll be able to see pictures, video interviews and much more around IoM at http://internetofmanufacturing.com as well as Global SMT & Packaging (www.globalsmt.net) where the dates and venue for the 2017 event will be published. If you're interested in taking part in 2017, drop me a note on twitter or LinkedIn.

A big thank you to all those that made this event possible and all those that attended. See you next time.

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