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Low Cost Automation Tutorial

#141 Low Cost Automation and Quality - 4: Component Mounting Automation and Quality

Category : Design tips
December21, 2012

Products that require electronic controls, including consumer electrical appliances, all include some sort of electronic printed circuit boards ([Photo]).

-During the period when the Japanese assembly industries advanced towards overseas, there was a time where many of the PC board production lines have adopted manual assembly workers in production lines, though assembly automation has already been realized in Japan.

-Since the labor costs were low in those locations where the Japanese businesses have advanced at that time, the production lines were designed and constructed based on a concept of "errors would be eliminated at inspection process stages".

-However, the manual inspections could not completely eliminate inspection misses due to human labor nature, even as the inspections were re-inspected, and zero defects was never accomplished.

-On the other hand, automated mounter can (1) inspect mounted parts, (2) confirm mounting positions, (3) check the soldering conditions, and (4) inspect functionalities of the PC boards, and incidence of failure can be kept to ppm order.

-This, however, is stipulated on a precondition that the automated mounter is properly maintained (especially the preventative maintenance).

-Based on the two production methods mentioned above, also with the limitations of manual labor, low cost automation has gradually progressed into the oversea advancements.

-It is difficult for automated machines to process while determining the instabilities in shapes and performances of the parts handled. Conversely, the advantage of skilled workers is able to overcome such shortcomings of automated machines.

-Therefore, the abilities of skilled workers are useful for prototypes during the early stages of new product development, where as for the mass production phase is the turn for the automated machines.

-For high density mounted components, human operations are difficult even for the early stage prototypes. Low cost automation not prioritizing the process speeds will be needed.

[Photo] Example of an electronic circuit board