The Future of Manufacturing

Steps towards the Autonomous Factory

Ivan Rodrigo Flor Cantos, Factory Solutions Marketing Manager, at Panasonic Connect Europe, tells us more about the Autonomous Manufacturing streaming event that took place at Productronica 2023 in Munich. 

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Our team at Factory Solutions have been working since years to give our users the possibility to build fully autonomous factories and transform the existing production sites to an autonomous factory. This transformation addresses both: the physical layer represented by our machines and component feeding solutions as well as the production management layers above. This is just a part of the future outlook on autonomous manufacturing highlighted in the recent Autonomous Manufacturing stream.

The one-hour session, I had the privilege of co-hosting, discussed everything from the approach of European markets related to electronics manufacturing, the scope of autonomous factories, component technologies for odd-shaped placement and material management solutions for better efficiency and operability as well as the advanced process control concept for 5M variations. Let’s recap the discussion together. 

5M Variations in Manufacturing

Many production sites still rely on their employee’s knowledge and manpower – the so-called 5M (Human, Machine, Material, Method, Measurement) method. The newly introduced APC-5M concept for 5M process control automates these important elements of manufacturing. APC-5M detects 5M variations as well as line changes in real-time and ensures a smooth production process without downtime. Using the solution, the entire line production process and individual machines are monitored through feed-forward and feed-back communication technology. Supported by AI, the control system improves and specifies detections and feedback after each production process. With every piece of data analysed, APC-5M becomes increasingly accurate in diagnosing and solving problems, becoming an invaluable tool in improving efficiency, production uptime, and increasing autonomy in customers’ factories. 

G Series for Autonomous Production

With the help of the brand-new SMT G Series, consisting of a printer NPM-GPL and a placement machine NPM-GH, the APC 5M concept can become reality. Some examples on how to implement the system in reality will follow now. Speaking of the printer, it is equipped with a viscosity metering, which will raise the temperature in the printer if too high or lower it if too low. Besides, is also comes with tension metering of tooling materials such as the stencil or clamper height measuring. Thanks to this measures, real time monitoring of material and tool condition enables predictive maintenance or self-recovering after errors to minimize or eliminate downtimes. 

Looking at the placement machine NPM-GH, conditions of feeders, nozzles and heads are also monitored in real-time to indicate the necessity for maintenance. These predictions allow shifting from static to dynamic maintenance timings. The placement machine is also capable of recovering itself, e.g., adjusting the pickup position after a pickup error.

Data Generation

Further, part of our autonomous factory concept is advanced data generation, material preparation and material management. Besides the improvements of material management allocation algorithms and added interfaces for tracking prepared material across the shopfloor, we are continuously expanding supported material towers and have solutions for both smart buffers between warehouse and production lines as well as replenishment shelfs at the line.

Seeing these visions brought to life on the livestream really underlined the incredible role technology will play in the future of an efficient and autonomous manufacturing. But don’t worry if you missed the show, it’s still available to watch and I really hope you will take a look, as the experts explain their visions so much better than I ever could.

To view a recording of the livestream, click here: Autonomous Manufacturing stream

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