ASYS Technology Days – Staring Into the Future

asysIt has been on my wish list for some time to visit the ASYS Technology Days, and finally I managed to make the sojourn to Dornstadt in Germany, while I was on short, but packed European trip.

Among the almost 80 Technology Day events in Europe, ASYS Technology Days was one of the first and remains one of the most interesting. Rather than a simple demonstration of their latest equipment range, the company offers a holistic look into the future of electronics manufacturing and give a sense of where we are driving the technologies that will make our products more reliable, traceable and cost-effective.

The event started with a Welcome Message by Markus Wilkens, President of ASYS USA, who outlined what we could expect during the coming hours, before handing off to the Keynote Speaker, Rabih A. Karim, a well-known German motivational speaker, who invigorated the audience with an uplifting presentation about “Courage” and managing stress.

There followed an interesting talk by Thomas Zettner from Continental AG on the increasing digitization of cars and the forthcoming driverless-car revolution.

Today, there are as many as 170 sensors and 70 controllers in some cars, requiring 15 million lines of code to operate them. This, as the presenter pointed out, is more than the space shuttle, drones, or a 767 aircraft.

asys2The journey towards automated driving is forging links between braking systems and sensors technologies. Currently, they can automatically park your car. By 2020, they will partially drive your car and by 2025, the industry expects full automation.

Progress towards these goals however differs from region to region. Asia is very keen to be at the forefront of this technology, Germany is 50/50, while the United States seems quite reserved. The cost expectation for the additional electronics needed to make this happen is in the range of €1 – 3,000.

In manufacturing, production technology using Industry 4.0 is starting to have a major effect and is expected to improve logistics by as much as 10-15% in 2017.

Collaborative Robots (CoBots) are being introduced for many repetitive tasks, such as replenishing the production line. These machines are working in collaboration with engineers on the factory floor, employing a range of communication devices such as smartglasses, smart watches, headsets and smartphones.

Software development featured highly in all of the areas affecting technology improvements and changes. In Continental AG alone, their €12 Billion sales last year comprised of 80% software solutions for driving, written by a relatively small team of 12,000 software engineers.

asys3Manfred Zollner, President and CEO of Zollner Electronics was the next presenter. Following on from many of the topics discussed by the previous presenter, Zollner identified ‘floor space’ as being a significant issue going forward and they were identifying which processes to speed up and which to automate.

This was borne out by the demonstration on the ASYS demonstration area where many logistics functions on the line had been automated using smart sensors, while other islands of automation were setup for other test or assembly functions not used in every day manufacturing.

Another area where Zollner identified a need for improvement was labelling. Smarter 3D labels are capable of carrying much more information on the product and its manufacturing history, which could be of great assistance for traceability once it is in the field.

asys4All of the equipment on display in the ASYS demonstration area was controlled by their PULSE system, which manages the workflow by providing alerts to engineers about a wide range of issues that affect the manufacturing line, maximizing efficiency and minimizing downtime.

All together a fascinating and rewarding visit and definitely worth the time.

–TREVOR GALBRAITH

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