As IPC looks to the future of the electronics industry to determine what services to develop in the areas of standards, education, and advocacy, we will rely on a newly created role at IPC—chief technologist—to assist us in that effort. Matt Kelly, a familiar face in IPC standards development and widely recognized in the global electronics industry as a thought leader and an innovator, was recently hired as IPC’s chief technologist. I sat down with Matt to ask him about his new role, as well as industry trends.
John Mitchell: When looking at something as broad as “the future of electronics,” how do you focus on what trends will be the most critical to supporting IPC members?
Matt Kelly: That’s a great question, John. As we can likely agree, predicting the future is a tough business—especially today, as emerging and disruptive technologies are rapidly evolving. To have a shot at getting this right, I focus on “cutting through the noise.” With so much information at our fingertips and so many technologies advancing at the same time, I concentrate on separating hype from reality. To do this, I rely on the engineering and business experience I’ve gained over the past 20 years in the electronics industry.
To ensure I identify critical trends for IPC members, I use a two-step approach. First, I leverage my network to understand what is most important, focusing on gathering critical “voice of the customer” (VOC) input from subject-matter experts and IPC members from around the world. Second, I examine promising trends through a business value lens. I focus on ROI value delivery by identifying real business issues and then applying appropriate solutions, including base operations management practices and new Industry 4.0 technologies as needed.
Mitchell: There is a great deal of interest in the “factory of the future,” implying that the current factory will be undergoing tremendous change soon. Can you explain what some of those changes might be and how they will affect the day-to-day operations of a factory?
Kelly: I first want to address timing expectations. We should expect a “factory of the future” transformation to be a gradual but steady transition with varying adoption levels by geography. In Europe, companies have been in-vesting and transforming since 2008 (e.g., Germany—the birthplace of Industry 4.0). Companies in Asia have been working since 2014 and are now leading the way with large scale implementation of new Industry 4.0 advancements. Adoption in North America is lagging but is critical in ensuring manufacturing competitiveness moving forward.
As for new advancements in electronics manufacturing factories, I see companies first in-vesting and implementing solutions in the following areas as they provide early ROI returns: digital transformation, secure cloud computing networks, and manufacturing operations/supply chain data analytics. This first group is likely to be followed by connected worker enhancement, cobot/robot automation, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and additive manufacturing.
To read this entire column, which appeared in the May 2020 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.