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Smart Manufacturing: The Evolutionary Edge

Phil Walker explores the integral role of SmartFactory in the evolution of smart manufacturing. Witness the cutting-edge advancements shaping the industry's future.


Hi, I’m Phil Walker. I own the Maintenance and Recurring Revenue Products here at Applied Materials. I’ve been part of manufacturing for many years, and when I started in manufacturing as a young engineer, it’s a little bit hard to believe looking back at this, but we literally had stopwatches and notepads when we were doing our manufacturing.

And we would look at the manufacturing steps, and we would be measuring our steps with stopwatches and recording our notes in notebooks, and then putting those in spreadsheets and analyzing them. And that at the time, that was a pretty SmartFactory. And obviously, things have evolved from there. We now have all sorts of systems that allow us to collect our data faster, analyze the data faster, visualize things faster. So things have transformed from what they were, frankly, not that long ago. And that’s been transformative.

You know, we’re getting much faster cycles of analysis. We’re getting much faster cycles of improvement. Now, what’s gonna happen in the next wave of SmartFactory is that we’re going to get to a point where all the basics that we were talking about before are actually going to be automated.

So we have situations where, you know, we’re going to have machine learning and AI that are helping us not only put the plans together for collecting the data and analyzing the data, but actually going and acquiring that data themselves, “themselves”, the AI themselves. But what’s going to happen in manufacturing is sort of the baseline that existed before, the baseline of us being able to collect information and act on it. It’s actually going to the vast majority of that is going to be done for us by systems that are already thinking about how to better collect and analyze this information. But it’s still going to require the engineers to be able to see what that information is, take that baseline of information and insight that’s being provided by the system, and add that spark of ingenuity and creativity that’s going to make a step function improvement.

That’s what SmartFactory means. And that’s what gets me so excited about being involved with Applied Materials because all of our energy in the things that we’re developing not only is trying to figure out how we can add to that baseline of valuable information for the engineers to utilize, but we’re involved in the most cutting-edge manufacturing on the planet. So we have the best environment to push manufacturing and a SmartFactory to that next phase.

And that’s really what gets me excited about what we’re doing here at Applied Materials and the future of what we can bring to manufacturing.

About the Author

Picture of SmartFactory Automation Solution Experts Team
SmartFactory Automation Solution Experts Team
The Applied SmartFactory® automation solution experts team develops integrated automation solutions for semiconductor manufacturers to improve the performance of factories. From implementing a manufacturing execution system that advances collaboration and automation, to integrating AI/ML technologies for faster decision making, SmartFactory automation solutions enable manufacturers to prioritize quality and reliability across every stage of the manufacturing process.