Today’s manufacturing businesses must be ultra responsive to market demands. Product lifecycles are becoming shorter, first-to-market advantage is critical, customers often demand a broad choice of product variants, and individual customisation is often expected. At the same time, manufacturers increasingly seek to build to order, and so minimise unused inventory and associated costs. As a result, lot sizes are becoming smaller and assembly activities are increasingly moving towards high-mix and mid-to-low-volume.
Production-planning responsibilities such as assigning work orders optimally to balance the load across machines and lines, minimize changeovers by arranging feeders optimally, and ensure that the required number of components are available for the right feeders at the right time are increasingly difficult to handle using human brainpower alone.
Software-Assisted Planning and Management
Yamaha’s P-Tool, which is part of the Factory Tools suite, is fine-tuned to exchange data efficiently with the company’s printers, dispensers, mounters and inspection stations in the SMT line. Essential processes for product preparation, such as CAD-data conversion and reverse gerber engineering, for example, produce programs that are ready to run on the machines with minimal additional manual fine-tuning. Moreover, features of the software such as the visual editor, which supports program verification, is designed using intimate knowledge of the machine features and capabilities. The programing features for optimization and balancing, also, take into account the individual features of the machines, such as the sizes and movement of placement heads or nozzles, to avoid interference and create programs that are right first time.
In addition, users can extend P-Tool with extra Pioneer Options utilities, which include features such as, automated generation of precision board data from gerber data, board images or CAM files such as ODB++, GenCAD, or FABmaster. In addition, a new mounting-variation creator responds to manufacturers’ need to build multiple versions of a common base board, by automatically importing multiple bills of materials (BOMs) and managing mounting variations for up to 254 variants of one board.
Other packages with in the Factory Tools suite help to verify machine setup and manage materials and components including LED binning (S-Tool), and support traceability and reporting down to individual component level (T-Tool).
Monitoring Status in Real-Time
Production managers need quick updates on the status of individual jobs, and to be ready when feeders need replenishment or changeovers are due.
Monitoring software can provide the required information at a glance, via a convenient graphical interface. Color-coded indicators, such as those presented by tools, as the company’s M-Tool monitoring software allow operators to quickly assess the status of each line and intervene instantly in the event of exceptions or stoppages. In addition, real time information shows operators exactly when a current job will finish, allowing them to prepare everything that will be needed for the next changeover. Parts-remaining counters help keep all lines working continuously by giving advanced warning when feeders need to be replenished. Statistical analysis can provide visibility of trends and events, identify and fix recurring errors, and set targets for continuous improvement.
Closing the Loop
To ensure optimum productivity and end of line yield, and minimum waste, any assembly defects arising from problems with individual machines need to be identified as soon as they occur and fixed immediately. This can be done effectively using closed-loop feedback of inspection data.
The company’s QA Option software does this by comparing No-Go (NG) alerts generated by its YSi inspection stations with the parts list for each mounter. If a match is found, the machine concerned is stopped and QA Alert reports the location and nature of the defect. If inspection is performed immediately after components are mounted, before reflow, a problem such as a blocked nozzle or jammed feeder, or a printer problem such as incorrect stencil alignment or blocked aperture, can be rectified after only a small number of boards have been populated.
QA Option provides the information an operator needs that has caused a populated board to fail inspection. Using this information, the operator can quickly identify the cause with minimal further investigation needed. The information from the QA Option report can also be sent directly to the operator’s mobile. Another aspect of this software permits mounters to feed information forward to the AOI station to help maximise productivity of the line. This ensures the AOI will verify the component identity at the part location concerned, using optical character recognition, for the first few boards after the change. If the identification is satisfactory, the AOI can subsequently revert to its normal program allowing the line to return to full-speed operation.