Integrated Smart SMT Factory – Catalysing fast manufacturing

By: Mannu Mathew | Sub Editor | ELE Times

Integrated Smart SMT Factory

The world of manufacturing is at the peak of an iceberg with the introduction of latest technology and innovation developing each and every day. Smart Manufacturing is a widely discussed topic and is gaining tremendous heights all over the world. With automation and robotics in every possible sector, factories are getting smarter and wiser. Today’s smart factories work under the principle of efficient, timely and qualitative production with less cost and more output.

Every sector of manufacturing whether it is textiles, automotive, chemicals or consumer product use the same phenomenon and is successful. While mentioning about the electronic sector and product process, the role of smart factories and manufacturing is a very crucial one. The culpable part of electronics which is Surface mount technology and PCBs are the ones which use the latest and hybrid smart integrated manufacturing technology

Role of Smart Factories

Due to the majority of electronic products specifying surface mount components, the bulk of assembly work is performed within Surface Mount Technology. The SMT today is equipped with the latest manufacturing tools and is prevalent in the industry. Electronics manufacturing using surface-mount technology simply means that electronic components are assembled with automated machines that place components on the surface of a board. In contrast to conventional through-hole technology processes, SMT components are placed directly on the surface of a PCB instead of being soldered to a wire lead. When it comes to electronic assembly, SMT is the most frequently used process in the industry.

Today in the SMT process, most of the components on board are placed automatically. Today, printed circuit boards are normally developed to reduce this to an absolute minimum, even to the extent of altering the design to use components that can be placed automatically. In addition to this, component manufacturers have developed some specialised surface mount versions of components that enable extensive use of IoT sensors and devices connects machines and enables visibility into their condition as well as into factory processes, creating an industrial internet of things (IIoT). Increasingly sophisticated analytics and applications based on AI and machine learning handle many of the routine tasks, freeing up people to focus on handling exceptions and making higher-level decisions. Robots are expected to populate smart factories for routine work, working alongside people.

Integrated Smart SMT Factories

The Smart SMT Factory operates with highly flexible and fully networked manufacturing solutions that adapt automatically to product changes. A highly developed automation system makes the work of the employees on the factory floor a lot easier. Intelligent software supports company-specific workflows, and IT systems are no longer there to just provide information, but to help and assist down to autonomous process optimization from self-learning expert systems.

ASM SMT Solutions

ASM is one of the well-known industry leaders in SMT manufacturing and is focusing with all efforts on the Integrated Smart SMT Factory for its global customer base. With its five SMT Centres of Competence around the globe and a close network of innovative customers and industry partners, ASM is taking the lead in the step-by-step implementation of the Smart SMT Factory and in offering its customers proven solutions for total integration already today.

Connectivity and integration are the new challenges in the Smart SMT Factory, but smart equipment is and remains the basis of every efficient electronics factory. Thus is it by no surprise that the ASM Electronic Manufacturing Operation in Singapore opens its door with a completely networked, highly agile production line. An integral part of the smart manufacturing is a HOTFLOW 3/14 provided by electronics systems supplier Ersa. The high-performance reflow soldering system, which offers outstanding thermal performance and an impressive energy balance, relies on the protocol-based IPC- HERMES-9852 standard, which quickly became the global standard for M2M communication.

The company’s powerful, integrated hardware and software systems enable electronics manufacturers to achieve massive improvements in flexibility, quality and productivity in areas ranging from planning and virtual production to process optimization, preparation and production to material management, factory monitoring and factory integration. An SMT line with two variants of the new SIPLACE TX high-end modules will demonstrate the assembly of super- small 0201m components, and the printing process on this line will be controlled and optimized with the ASM Process Expert.

The software collects messages from the machines on all lines to visualize and prioritize the required assists. It coordinates and distributes the operator requests via smart watches, handheld devices or tablets. If necessary, it provides additional information such as manuals, videos or explanations of error messages. The software even takes the individual operators’ skills into account. That way, more experienced employees are freed from routine tasks such as splicing, etc., and assigned to more complex assists. The software also allows machine settings or similar assists to be performed remotely, which saves even more time and money.

ASM’s latest developments, the DEK TQ print platform and the SIPLACE Auto Refill Feeder, were also recognized with notable industry awards during the event. DEK TQ was the recipient of the competitive IPC APEX EXPO Innovation Award, bestowed by the IPC industry association and evaluated by a panel of judges that hail from top assembly OEMs and contractors. One of only six products selected for this honour, DEK TQ was chosen for its innovation, manufacturing impact and value to the customer. Through a combination of off-belt printing and a unique clamping system, DEK TQ delivers accuracy of +/- 17.55 µm @ 2 CpK wet print and ensures reliable printing processes with 0201 metric components. Equally impressive is the platform’s ability to run for eightcontinuous hours with no assists, thanks to the robust paste management and understencil cleaning systems.

Panasonic

The company has integrated its welding business and SMT (Surface Mount Technology) equipment business to consolidate its software and hardware capabilities and become an end-to-end integrated Smart Manufacturing Solutions company. The smart factory solutions proposition will enable Panasonic to deliver broader, high value-added, smart solutions and services along with world-class hardware to the manufacturing industry.

Panasonic is looking at focusing on their solutions and digital manufacturing business which is expected to contribute 15% to its Smart factory revenue in the next three years. Panasonic plans to open a technical centre for its smart factory solutions which will act as a strategic base that validates smart factories with customers and be used as a training centre where customers can learn the skills required to operate a digital factory. The company is focused on building India as its innovation hub for the globe, and create a  strong ecosystem of component and automated manufacturing in the country.

The smart factory solutions are for manufacturers looking to take a forward leap in smart manufacturing through solutions such as integrated line management system (ILNB), automated process tracker, digital reporting system and more. Panasonic’s recently introduced solution, ILNB can communicate with the entire line of machinery and can automate up to 70-80% of manual processes, thereby improving productivity ensuring quality control and supporting actual production process. Similarly, the digital reporting system allows real time access to information helping build agility and overall transparency of systems.

Today, manufacturers require improvements not only in process automation but also in productivity and quality across the entire production cycle and factory as a whole. The key technology to realize a Smart Factory is to connect various equipment through the Internet of Things (IoT), to synchronize them and collect and control data from the equipment in real time for entire production processes.

Yamaha

Yamaha developed its own machine communication interfaces. These interfaces facilitate the collection of ELECTRONIC MFG. SERVICES (EMS) SMT line with closed-loop feedback of SPI data to printer, AOI data to the mounter and the correlation of all data with traceability software. Yamaha has helped manufacturers improve quality control and boost productivity by identifying defects, such as missing components or incorrect alignment. This enables them to take remedial action immediately. Yamaha’s initiative also makes it possible to collect information capable of driving preventive maintenance, which is becoming an  part of smart manufacturing. Feeding solder paste inspection data to the printer enables auto-correction of print alignment and auto initiation of stencil cleaning. AOI data gathered in-line, immediately after component mounting, enables quick diagnosis of component placement errors or solder paste defects, down to the level of individual mounter nozzles or stencil apertures.

Yamaha Motor has taken this trend in a timely manner, and developed Intelligent Factory. an Internet of Things (IoT)/machine-to-machine (M2M) integration system using the latest technologies. For the introduction of Intelligent Factory, Yamaha Motor is proposing a practical four-step process and focuses on and actively proposes the automation and labour saving of the surface-mount technology (SMT) line based on the M2M connectivity. In this process, Yamaha has made possible mutual cooperation, not only among Yamaha’s SMT machines, but also with other companies’ machines. In fact the company already has a track record of installing that kind of numerous production lines.

Road Ahead

Most Fundamental characteristics of a smart factory is its connectedness, sensors are critical to linking devices, machines and systems to provide data needed to make real-time decisions, The extensive amount of data provides real-time insight to supply chain stakeholders, both inside the factory and to the business and partners. In this way, agility can increase exponentially and issues can be addressed proactively. Already, IoT technologies have helped to monitor industrial operations, provide supply chain visibility and predict equipment downtime.

Generally, the future SMT technology demands a higher level of integration, automation and precision. SMT placement manufacturers are improving machine flexibility with larger feeder capacities and multi-functional placement heads day by day. As the demand for high-mix and low to medium volume manufacturing environments continues to increase. Machine flexibility and placement speed, for greater throughput. The wider adoption of high-performance machinery will allow SMT placement equipment manufacturers to keep up with the increasing technological demands of the electronics industry. Encoder technology employed within SMT placement equipment is directly responsible for improving placement accuracy and repeatability as well as increasing the speed of each axis, thereby boosting machine throughput to higher levels.

By: Mannu Mathew | Sub Editor | ELE Times

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