Every so often, a few farsighted people with vision, means, and the will to act perceive a wave approaching and see opportunity where others see only the mist. Today, one of these waves is upon us and it is just beginning to engulf the world of industrial manufacturing. Industry 4.0, Smart Machines, Industrial Internet of Things, Edge Computing, they all point to the same idea that a revolution is underway in the form of cyber-physical systems entering the mainstream manufacturing environment, and if that sounds a little theatrical to you, join the club. However, you can be sure that some of those flexible thinkers will rise out of these waves with ideas that stick and ultimately change the way an industry does things.
So, what do we do about it? Today, Signal.X is actively pursuing two strategies to ensure that we can get out in front of this. The first is developing partnerships with receptive machine builders that see us as a technology resource and a way to extend their own reach, perhaps even accepting our role as system integrator when the task suits our particular talents and experience better than their own. The second strategy is to create an automation platform that encompasses the technology and themes in this new wave and to bring it down to an actionable level on the plant floor.
It’s that last bit that is the tough part, because I don’t think anybody really knows what an “actionable level” actually means when you start talking about what a production test machine would do to become a “Smart Machine.” You see, production testing has always been a pretty binary business to the geezers and curmudgeons that built the current generation of manufacturing equipment. Personally, I am looking forward to my probably too-soon promotion to curmudgeon status and hope to live to see geezer too, but in the meantime, I want to ride this big wave and see where it takes us.
So, smart young people, let’s get past binary thinking and bring our customers to a future where test machines are aware of external influences and can react to changing conditions in real time. Show them how to get at the information they need, how to store it, protect it, analyze it, operate on it and get it out to the people and other machines that need it too. Gather it at the edge, move it to the middle, distribute it to the front and boil it down to cash. That’s the goal.
Go get ’em