The shared drive among all manufacturing companies is the desire to provide customers with faster completion times and more efficient production while maintaining the highest possible level of quality control standards and traceability. As products, especially electronic assemblies, grow exponentially more complex, the manufacturing processes used in their production naturally follow suit.
Since humans rather quickly reach the upper limit of their ability to process details, turning to machines for help has long been a well-established protocol. Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication is one such methodology for tapping into some of the inherent qualities of devices that exceed the capabilities of human beings. M2M refers to systems that collect data from machinery with the use of electronic sensors, transmit the received information through a network and utilize software to interpret the data for human evaluation or to control directly another machine or process.
Machine-to-Machine Computational Leverage Offers Advantages
To make the manufacturing process as efficient and transparent as possible, decision makers must juggle a myriad of variables. Inventory, line availability, labor scheduling, the sequencing of operations and production equipment reliability represent just a few of the factors that determine whether a particular run will be on time and profitable or a complete loss. By utilizing M2M technology, such crucial details are offloaded from production facility personnel and handled more efficiently by intelligent connected hardware, reducing the risk of human error.
Better Networks Equal Better Communication
While the concept of M2M use in manufacturing has been around for a while, the burden of hardwired networks limited its usefulness. M2M systems that required physical connections were restricted in both available communication protocols and proximity. Now, primarily with the advent of wireless technology and the cloud, networking protocols are increasingly standardized and free from limitations imposed by physical location.
The ability to effortlessly transmit collected data anywhere combined with the increased accuracy and availability of sensing equipment has exploded the possibilities of M2M communication in manufacturing. Tying the systems on the floor with the business office and creating traceable and transparent procedures allows electronics contract manufacturers, and manufacturing operations as a whole, to more accurately produce the complex printed circuit board assemblies and other electronics products demanded by today’s markets.
Meaningful Human Interfaces Move Progress Forward
Of course, the end result of incorporating M2M communication into the manufacturing process is not to replace humans, but to enhance their innate abilities. By using available tools to monitor data, interpret the numbers and make critical adjustments automatically, production workers are freed to create better processes and systems to increase efficiency even more. M2M is just another tool that humans can use to help them improve the limits of their creative possibilities.