Disruptive technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, 3D printing, robotics and advanced sensors are here. They will continue to transform companies and blur the lines between industries as they are incorporated across platforms and devices. Automation and Robotics Artificial Intelligence is a key factor in making production systems more robust and more efficient. Machine learning algorithms utilize data and images to improve its function closer to real time. Ultimately this will improve quality and time to market. Automation and robotics set the precedent for AI, laying the groundwork for future process advancement. Common applications of robotics within the EMS industry include: product high level assembly, production processes, machine tending, final packaging and quality inspection of parts, processes and assembly. Plexus is currently deploying AI in the form of machine learning and robotic systems. We strive to be the leader in supporting high mix, technically demanding products through the use of this technology. We will continue to add value to our customer’s products in the form of Design and Development, Supply Chain, Manufacturing, and Aftermarket Services AI: Data Analytics In order to improve product time-to-market, engineering and manufacturing processes must be as efficient and cost effective as possible. AI will help companies achieve just that. It will provide a digital 360-degree view in product design, more intelligent production planning and highly automated workflows on the factory floor – in addition to smart integrated logistics processes, and predictive and prescriptive maintenance. With Machine Learning and algorithm-routing engines sifting through massive amounts of product and plant data, AI has the potential to improve outcomes, not by replacing the decision-making of operators and engineers, but by giving them new insights. Capturing, analyzing and leveraging data in the smart factory is set to become a standard part of the service package of an EMS partner. Companies will be expected to predict supply chain performance, remotely control plant operations, automate forecasting, monitor part inventory, and improve quality and response time of aftermarket services. Read more on this trend Additive Manufacturing 3D printing is transforming the factory of the future. Companies can expedite the prototyping process and reduce errors before production. Tooling improvements in 3D printed materials, combined with lower costs, will accelerate its adoption in production applications. These production-level materials, combined with onsite additive manufacturing devices, enable manufacturers to significantly reduce the costs of devices. Consider medical implants or surgical tools – these applications will benefit greatly from the widespread use of 3D printing technology. Effective EMS providers will have the know-how to integrate additive manufacturing into a customers’ design and manufacturing process, (“Design-for-Additive-Manufacturing”), while providing the necessary 3D-printed parts to meet aggressive time to market needs. Supply Chain Sustainability More and more customers - as well as end-consumers - are demanding ethically produced goods. It matters whether workers are paid a living wage and treated fairly and that products are sourced and manufactured sustainably. In response to this demand, many companies are incorporating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into their business models. Companies must be prepared to provide transparency across the supply chain to support the ethical production of products. At Plexus, our teams offer expertise and experience to build a transparent and robust supply chain with CSR in mind. With greater visibility into supply chains, businesses can ensure their practices are sustainable and respect human rights.