Industry 4.0: For EMS manufacturers, digitalization and robotics are more than just technology
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Industry 4.0

For EMS manufacturers, digitalization and robotics are more than just technology

Industry 4.0 has been a trend topic for years. But what potential lies behind this vision in the context of the question of where the journey for EMS manufacturers in Europe is leading? The Mechatronics & Automation (CMA) cluster has been thinking about this.

Looking at the current status, Johann Schenkl, Cluster Manager Eastern Bavaria, comes to the following assessment of the cluster: "Industry 4.0 has not yet reached 100% of EMS manufacturers. Neither has Industry 4.0 - as it stands today - reached the end of the change process". According to Schenkl, the idea of networking along the entire value chain - from development to the purchase of components and production to service - offers great future potential for the individual companies. Currently, data exchange (wired as well as wireless IOT) for connecting machines is being practiced to a high degree. Over-all communication, i.e. including purchasing and service, has so far been at a low level. It is currently rather limited to data such as quantities and error rates. Batch size 1 and the associated high number of variants is actually an "enemy of automation". Things like adaptive and networked production (less on stock) could help here. And finally, AI makes information usable in a highly networked way and thus provide the basis for new optimizations.

For EMS manufacturers, this results in pragmatic demands on Industry 4.0 - in the context of current market developments. Despite a large variety of products and variants, EMS manufacturers will need more reliable forecasts from procurement to service for products already in development. This will help to increase quality and output as the number of variants increases. The complete data flow accompanying the product (labeling - recording - collecting data - linking data - evaluating data - feeding results back into the process) unfolds its potential when it is "99.9%" consistent. Only on this basis can a company plan optimally. Technologies such as SW (AI), VR and robotics (co-robots) should support people and therefore be considered at an early stage. "Manufacturing supports customers flexibility" also helps to resolve the complexity of the task and make it more manageable. EMS manufacturers need to become familiar with these technologies and possibilities in order to then integrate them into the company processes.

Fig. 1: Booth at SMTconnect 2019: The dialogue offering for industry 4.0 solutions of today and tomorrow will take place again in 2020 (Figure: CMA)
Fig. 1: Booth at SMTconnect 2019: The dialogue offering for industry 4.0 solutions of today and tomorrow will take place again in 2020 (Figure: CMA)

With their broad subtechnology range, the members of the cluster show which solutions can and should work together in an industry 4.0 approach. To this end, the companies are networking and cooperating intensively, including joint exhibition stands (Fig. 1) and in cluster and industry meetings. In workshops and the mechatronics academy, the current topics are prepared in a practical manner - covering the entire process chain, from development and procurement to the manufacturing process and service. Against this background, various approaches were presented by the participating companies at the joint stand at SMTconnect 2019, for example:

  • Modular construction kit for connection technology (Eutect)
  • Solutions from Germany's only chair for electronics manufacturing (FAPS)
  • Automation with customer-specific gripping systems (German Robotics)
  • Contactless counting of components on reels (optical control)
  • Solutions for industrial marking (Schärer+Kunz)
  • Tools for automation, more efficiency and better collaboration in order processing and production (Perzeptron)

Also at SMTconnect 2020, cluster members will demonstrate how industry 4.0 approaches can be implemented step by step with EMS manufacturers. The event also provides an ideal framework for future-oriented dialogue between suppliers and users.

Related links

More information about the cluster:

More information about the FAPS solutions:

Learn more about automation tools:


  • EMS
  • Industry 4.0
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Digitalization

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