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Productronica 2023: Day 2 ReviewNovember 16, 2023 | Pete Starkey, I-Connect007
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
After a rainy Tuesday for the start of productronica, we had a brief respite on Wednesday morning, so we were able to walk from the U-bahn to the west entrance of Messe München without getting wet. We were accompanied by a horde of eager exhibition attendees mobbing the turnstiles to get into what promised to be an even livelier second day of the show.
Yes, productronica has come back to life after COVID and re-established its identity as a premier event with more than 1,300 exhibitors from 45 countries, together with an exclusive supporting program.
In my early days in the industry, it was not particularly difficult or expensive to set up PCB manufacture or assembly. It was more about basic skills and one’s ability to innovate. Now, this has become a very expensive club to join, with equipment, software, and data processing capability largely replacing human skill—not that there seems to be much in the way of appropriate skill level or a viable workforce alternative. But there are certainly lots of people at productronica this week, and some of whom have serious money to spend. But what to spend it on?
There was plenty of choice of expensive equipment to choose from, but from what I saw on my initial walk around, there was nothing that I would consider truly revolutionary. That being said, there are lots of incremental improvements of instrumental equipment capability on display. Probably the most significant areas of innovation are in automation and application of artificial intelligence and machine learning in process optimization.
I lost count of the number of equipment suppliers who could measure the cost of their systems in terms of return-on-investment that was based on man-hours savings. For example, there was equipment that completes five process steps in a single machine, not only removing the cost for using as many human operators, but also removing process variability from human error, and usually while having built-in process stop gaps for observed variation where human intervention is needed. These “innovations” are good to see and sorely needed.
Yet, after all these years, we continue to fight the same battles, working to solve the same relative problems, though perhaps within smaller form factors. But maybe I am getting cynical in my declining years. And it was raining again by lunch.
Follow along with our video and photo coverage of this event at Real Time with... productronica 2023.
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