Monday, September 26, 2011
Avoid Wasting Time, Material and Capacity
Intelligent concepts for SMD Production reduce manufacturing costs
Wastage of material, time and capacity increase electronics manufacturing costs. To have a low-cost production that is flexible enough to meet customer requirements, companies must streamline. The goal: “Intelligent Production.”
If flexibility in production is causing a hectic pace, then manufacturing costs will explode. Large material inventory, overproduction, production errors, waiting times and stock movements are the main cost drivers. For systematic reduction of such waste, a production manager must be aware of all the details while keeping the overview in mind. Intelligent production concepts with software support make this possible.
Material Inventory Conceals Production Problems
A large inventory of components and subassemblies can conceal many problems. Errors in planning, purchasing and production may not influence the deliveries because it may seem that customer orders can be fulfilled at any time: There is always enough material to bypass logistical difficulties.
However, the inventory increases costs such as current assets, capital interests, management cost and the price of warehouse space. If the material has not been used before its expiration date, depreciation and disposal cost also must be factored in.
Therefore, minimizing inventory brings two advantages: reduced cost and logistical problems become visible and can then be solved. However, inventory reduction must be done in a controlled environment. It requires intelligent planning systems that know the current material consumption as well as future needs as accurately as possible. ERP systems have such functionalities; however, few can model the complexity of a highly flexible electronics production.
eMIS from Essemtec is designed for such requirements because the software has been developed based on practical experience. eMIS directly communicates with pick-and-place machines and knows the current component consumption in real-time. Additionally, the software tracks expiration dates and calculates remaining floor lifetime of components with moisture sensitivity level (MSL) classification.
Intelligent Feeder Setup Avoids Overproduction
Overproduction is wastage and mainly unplanned. For example, an urgent order can tempt the production manager into compensating possible production errors from the beginning with surplus PCBs. Old production machines and time-consuming feeder set-up may be other reasons for producing more than is actually ordered.
But overproduction can jeopardize a company and must be avoided. Even frame contracts are no real insurance. Automotive suppliers had to experience this painfully a few years ago when the required quantities suddenly shrank. Material and time had been wasted on products that were no longer needed.
It is better to produce only the quantity that is ordered and that will be paid for by the customer. Such a just-in-time production is only feasible with modern production systems that feature a high feeder capacity and intelligent feeder setup plans. Such a plan must consider what components are actually installed on the machines in sufficient quantity, so that they do not have to be installed again.
SMD pick-and-place machines such as Essemtec’s Cobra, Paraquda or FLX in combination with eMIS software enable the organization of lean production. Production planning with eMIS can be simulated according to different parameters. For example, the production manager can decide on-screen if it would be better for the planned job to have an optimized, complete new feeder set-up or to simply add the missing components to the machine.
Avoid Errors from the Beginning
Because rework and repair also are wastage, quality should be produced from the beginning. Quality assurance measures in electronics production include high levels of experience and motivation from all employees, continuous service on production machines, and set-up checks before the start of production. An important principle to follow is “the easier the machine operation, the fewer the errors that will occur.”
Essemtec’s eeZ software technology has been developed to increase quality and flexibility of production. eeZ is the base of ePlace machine operation software and eMIS production management software suite. eeZ technology supports touch screens and simplifies the operation of complex systems. It supports operators with a multilingual help system, automatic command completion, input validation and other features that are standard on modern software.
Intelligent feeders and barcode-based set-up verification are the base for strict quality assurance. Furthermore, Essemtec’s pick-and-place machines feature Virtual View, a combination of a live PCB view with virtual components. It allows positioning and alignment to be verified before production start, similar to the combination of satellite images with virtual streets on Web-based map systems.
Waiting Time Costs Money
Even if a machine does not produce, it still creates costs in the form of capital interest and space. To avoid machine standstill times, material must be available in time and machines should not stand still for changeover.
Additionally, waiting times can occur in production lines with multiple placement machines. The reason is a poor allocation of the assembly to the individual modules. eMIS enables the simulation, optimization and verification of such complex tasks. The software even allows virtual assembly lines to be set up for more complex what-if-analyses.
New Storage Concepts for Intelligent Production
In the past, components were prepared for specific jobs, transported to production and back to storage after job completion. This was reliable; however, it involved high material inventory as well as increased logistics and stock movement efforts.
Today, very compact automatic component storage systems such as the Tower from Essemtec offer new possibilities. A Tower can bring the required component reel directly to the pick-and-place system. After production, the machine operator can put the reel directly back to the stock. The stock motion is registered, the inventory is automatically corrected and transport routes are eliminated.
A tower can even store MSL-classified components safely without any additional packing. Due to a temperature and humidity controlled environment, floor live time is kept constant after a reel has been stored inside the Tower. As such, the automatic storage system can save a great amount of expensive MSL packaging material.
Requirements for precision, quality assurance and traceability of electronics production have risen in recent years. What used to be required only in aerospace and medical industries, has become standard in “normal” production as well.
Intelligent production concepts are more important than ever. Modern pick-and-place machines and integrated logistics software help to reduce production cost, working capital and to secure the liquidity of a company. Especially for flexible production, intelligent planning systems such as eMIS from Essemtec ensure that multiple daily production changeovers can be managed easily and do not cause a hectic pace.