The Evolution of Industry 4.0, Through the Eyes of the PCB Manufacturer

July 01, 2017

Industry 4.0 – known to some as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), or Smart Factory –promises to transform the manufacturing and production infrastructure in profound ways. Its name derives from its potential to usher in the fourth industrial revolution – a bold objective when one considers the magnitude of the revolutions in steam power, assembly line production, and computer automation that preceded it.
 
Much has been written about the envisioned technology framework that will enable Industry 4.0 to be fully realized. This effort has required a complete rethink of legacy production processes, and is accelerating the transition from analog, centralized workflows to digital, decentralized production processes. The ultimate end goal of this digitalization effort is to create autonomous “cyber physical” production systems via which customer orders will be able to steer themselves throughout the supply chain and manufacturing processes with little to no human intervention. This new framework will enable breakthrough gains in production efficiency and agility, boost overall yield, and lower production costs substantially.
 
We have a long way to go before this vision is achieved, but continued innovations in manufacturing automation, sensor technology, the IoT, and big data analytics are accelerating the Industry 4.0 transformation. Key to this effort is the ability to source, aggregate and analyze production data at real-time speed, with end-to-end, pinpoint-precision visibility into the production line. Production data must be shared at every point across the manufacturing line, and harnessed in a manner whereby high value data can be readily understood and acted upon immediately.
 
Orbotech’s role as a provider of automated manufacturing equipment gives us unique insight into these processes, particularly when it comes to the production of printed circuit boards (PCBs). Widely regarded as the fundamental building blocks of electronic devices, PCB production provides a good window into the technological evolution that’s now underway on the path to Industry 4.0. Among our observations and recommendations:
 
Quickly extract the most valuable data. PCB manufacturers often struggle to make sense of the huge amounts of data flooding in from a multitude of sources across the factory floor, particularly when there’s wide variance among the data attributes than need to be analyzed. By leveraging an integrated network of manufacturing and IT systems that can seamlessly share data and parse and assess all known data parameters in real time, PCB manufacturers can more quickly extract the valuable data they need to make more informed decisions. Digital processes such as direct imaging, inspection, laser drilling and legend digital printing are accurately measuring and inspecting the PCB panels in different production stages. The capability to extract and to understand the relevant data from the vast amount of data attributes supports intelligent analysis capabilities that  allows the PCB fabricator to make smart decisions on process improvements
 
Real-time, high-precision inspection shortens decision making cycles and improves yield. If repeated defects in the PCBs aren’t detected quickly and accurately, hundreds of processed panels may ultimately need to be scrapped – this is wasteful and expensive. Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) systems can help eliminate this issue by quickly identifying recurring defects and localized defect distribution, alerting the manufacturer in real time to halt the line and/or troubleshoot the preceding processes such as etching or environmental conditions. Using direct imaging (DI) systems,
PCB manufacturers can quickly identify and measure panel dimension instability, such as stretching, and make the necessary image adjustments. Over time, these measurements can be averaged together to better plan the production parameters and materials used for later batches.
 
Track everything. Product recalls are a fact of life, affecting everything from baby cribs to automobiles to artificial hearts. But recalls are expensive and they needn’t be so prevalent. In the
electronic devices domain, it’s far more cost effective in the long run to implement RFID and 2D barcode tracking at the PCB panel level to ensure that every PCB can be traced throughout the production process, identifying when, where and how the PCB was handled, at every single touchpoint. With a complete record of the production process, defective PCBs can be identified and isolated early – long before they’re built into the end device.
 
PCB manufacturers are of course just one subset of the manufacturing community, but the core concepts that underpin these best practices are widely applicable, and can provide manufacturers with the intelligence they need to make faster, better decisions. Looking ahead to the future, decision making responsibilities will increasingly be transferred from humans to machines, and the frictionless,
omni-directional flow of data across the supply chain and factory floors will enable the real-time responsiveness and agility that make Industry 4.0 a reality.

Author: Shavi Spinzi, Industry Marketing Director, PCB Division, Orbotech
Published by: Evaluation Engineering

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

Except for historical information, the matters discussed in this website (including in press releases, webcasts, presentations, posts and other places) are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements relate to, among other things, future prospects, developments and business strategies and involve certain risks and uncertainties. The words “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “will,” “plan,” “expect” and “would” and similar terms and phrases, including references to assumptions, have been used in this website to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made based on management’s expectations and beliefs concerning future events as of the date of the applicable information (press releases, webcasts, presentations, or posts) and are subject to uncertainties and factors relating to Orbotech’s operations and business environment, the previously announced acquisition of Orbotech by KLA, the manner in which the parties plan to effect the transaction, including the share repurchase program, the ability to raise additional capital necessary to complete the repurchase program within the time frame expected, the expected benefits, synergies and costs of the transaction, management plans relating to the transaction, the expected timing of the completion of the transaction, the parties’ ability to complete the transaction considering the various closing conditions, including conditions related to regulatory and Orbotech shareholder approvals, the plans, strategies and objectives of management for future operations, product development, product extensions, product integration, complementary product offerings and growth opportunities in certain business areas, the potential future financial impact of the transaction, and any assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. Actual results may differ materially from those referred to in the forward-looking statements due to a number of important factors, including but not limited to the foregoing matters and the possibility that expected benefits of the transaction may not materialize as expected, that the transaction may not be timely completed, if at all, that KLA-Tencor may not be able to successfully integrate the solutions and employees of the two companies or ensure the continued performance or growth of Orbotech’s products or solutions, the risk that the Company may not achieve its revenue and margin expectations within and for 2018 (including, without limitation, due to shifting move-in dates); cyclicality in the industries in which the Company operates, the Company’s supply chain management and production capacity, order cancelation (often without penalty), timing and occurrence of product acceptance (the Company defines ‘bookings’ and ‘backlog’ as purchase arrangements with customers that are based on mutually agreed terms, which, in some cases for bookings and backlog, may still be subject to completion of written documentation and may be changed or cancelled by the customer, often without penalty), fluctuations in product mix within and among divisions, worldwide economic conditions generally, especially in the industries in which the Company operates, the timing and strength of product and service offerings by the Company and its competitors, changes in business or pricing strategies, changes in the prevailing political and regulatory framework in which the relevant parties operate, including as a result of the United Kingdom’s prospective withdrawal from the European Union (known as “Brexit”) and political uncertainty in the United States, or in economic or technological trends or conditions, including currency fluctuations, inflation and consumer confidence, on a global, regional or national basis, the level of consumer demand for sophisticated devices such as smart mobile devices, automotive electronics, flexible applications and devices, augmented reality/virtual reality and wearable devices, high-performance computing, liquid crystal display and organic light emitting diode screens and other sophisticated devices, the Company’s global operations and its ability to comply with varying legal, regulatory, exchange, tax and customs regimes, the timing and outcome of tax audits, including the best judgment tax assessment issued by the Israel Tax Authority with respect to the audit of tax years 2012-2014 in Israel and the related criminal investigation, the Company’s ability to achieve strategic initiatives, including related to its acquisition strategy, the Company’s debt and corporate financing activities; the timing, final outcome and impact of the criminal matter and ongoing investigation in Korea, including any impact on existing or future business opportunities in Korea and elsewhere, any civil actions related to the Korean matter brought by third parties, including the Company’s customers, which may result in monetary judgments or settlements, expenses associated with the Korean matter, and ongoing or increased hostilities in Israel and the surrounding areas.

The foregoing information should be read in connection with the Company’s Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2017, and subsequent SEC filings. This information is also supplemented by the information in the applicable document on this website (e.g., press release, webcast, presentation, posts and other document). The Company is subject to the foregoing and other risks detailed in those reports. The Company assumes no obligation to update the information in this website (including press releases, webcasts, presentations, posts and other places) to reflect new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.