SMT topics in focus
Information is increasingly becoming critical for success in modern SMT production. To get the most out of your manufacturing equipment, you must collect data across the board, process it in a user-oriented manner, and make it available in the right place. Advances in SMT production are characterized by increases in automation, standardization, and integration. While the early days of electronics manufacturing were marked by an approach that featured lots of manual support and was insular and closed-off in terms of information technology, a strong trend towards automation has developed in recent years that is driven by high personnel costs and a shortage of skilled workers due to demographic factors.
The people-free “lights out” factory, however, turned out to not be a sensible optimization goal for economic reasons alone because automation lowers unit costs only to a certain degree. Over-automation, on the other hand, drives up costs. In practice, the Pareto principle, which states that 80 percent of the results are achieved with 20 percent of the resources employed, applies here as well. Each additional percentage point of improvement requires a disproportionate increase in resources. ASMPT recognized this early on and reached the first stage with the Integrated Smart Factory, which focused on maximizing the return on investment instead of automation.
Interfaces as development drivers
The introduction of standardized interfaces to improve the manufacturing processes in the Integrated Smart Factory was an essential factor for the increasing integration of existing hardware and software solutions. Of particular importance are:
• IPC-HERMES-9852 for the seamless machine-to-machine (M2M) communication
• IPC-2591 CFX for linking machines and autonomous storage and transport systems to higher-level systems such as MES and ERP
The global innovation and market leader uses these standard industrial interfaces for its open and flexible automation concept which easily integrates third-party systems, enables retrofits, and gives electronics manufacturers the freedom to choose how, when and to what extent they want to automate their production. With this strategy, electronics manufacturers are precisely geared to the needs of users and the market in terms of their degree of digitalization and automation. The approach was subsequently complemented with software solutions for personnel deployment, quality assurance and material logistics.
The Integrated Smart Factory already features direct machine-to-machine communication – for example, the SPI system can trigger offset corrections or cleaning cycles in the solder paste printer without user intervention. The individual production and quality assurance stages, however, are still largely isolated from each other. In addition, an important resource is hardly used in an integrative way: the data that the numerous cameras, sensors and readers on the individual machines continuously produce.
In contrast to pure machine manufacturers or pure software developers, ASMPT as a system supplier covers almost the entire SMT production with its products, has unique process know-how, and knows from many years of experience which data from the production ‘data lake’ is truly relevant.
By advancing the Integrated Smart Factory into the intelligent factory, ASMPT is now leveraging this treasure trove of data and consistently using big data to optimize the return on investment both in depth, i.e., in the form of more detailed production process analysis and optimization, and across the board through the data-based integration of production areas such as the company’s intralogistics.
It is no longer just the individual process step, the individual machine, the individual setup, the individual product or the individual material requirement that is being considered, but the SMT production in its totality. This new concept of integrative data use in the intelligent factory brings benefits on several levels.
Process optimization and fault analyses
The basis of any improvement in SMT production is the continuous collection and presentation of key performance indicators (KPIs). These include, for example, the line’s throughput rate, overall equipment efficiency (OEE), utilization, and balance. To make this possible, the intelligent factory accumulates machine data in a monitoring application that is part of ASMPT’s Works software suite and makes it available in a way that is role-specific and device-independent.
With their SPI and AOI systems, modern production lines already have highly powerful quality assurance systems. Unfortunately, many of the faults they detect do not originate where they are first discovered. While these systems were able to reject faulty products, they often did not help in eliminating the underlying problems. In the intelligent factory, on the other hand, easy-to-use overarching dashboards quickly reveal what led to these errors. The data integration extends beyond the line. By comparing planning, reference and real-time production data, production obstacles are identified and can be eliminated – again through comprehensive analyses.
The M2M data flow delivers another plus in user-friendliness: Since faults that have been detected by WORKS’ multi-line analysis functions appear on the display of the affected machine, the maintenance staff knows right away where they need to take action.
Material flow based on the 4R principle
Since providing the right material in the right quantity at the right time in the right place has always been the goal of intralogistics, the integrative use of data in the intelligent factory has also revolutionized the flow of materials. For example, it is now possible to continuously compute the material consumption on the line in real time in freely definable time slices. The system combines and correlates data on planned and actual material consumption along with data on material currently along the line. Based on this information, WORKS generates material requests to the central and local storage sites along with time-controlled transportation orders. In this way, space-consuming “emergency stock” on the line can be avoided, and the material is available on time and exactly where it is actually needed.
Material buffering in the setup preparation area can also be optimized easily and efficiently with WORKS. Once a production order has been completed, the software provides the employees on the line with detailed instructions as to which component reels need to be returned to the warehouse and which should remain in the setup preparation area because they will be needed again for one or more subsequent orders. This saves time and unnecessary material travel between the shop floor and the central warehouse.
The factory-encompassing management and coordination of autonomous storage and transport systems for all production-relevant materials and tools – from the receiving of materials to the shipping of finished products – is now data-based as well.
PCB-induced program changeovers
A good practical example of the benefits of the integrative use of data is the setup changeover for a new product. In the intelligent factory, the line no longer needs to be emptied – the program changeover can be executed automatically by passing the data of the circuit board being processed from machine to machine via the standardized IPC-HERMES-9852 interface.
As soon as the PCBs are unloaded from the magazine at the start of the line, all relevant data is sent to the DEK TQ solder paste printer from ASMPT. This can be done via labels and a barcode reader or directly from the production planning system. The machine then compares the data with the information stored in the planning system. If necessary, it triggers an automatic program download and any setup changes that may be required. Once printed, the circuit board is passed along to the Process Lens SPI system along with its IPC-HERMES-9852 data and subsequently to the SIPLACE placement machines. Each manufacturing station executes a new comparison between the loaded and the required program and makes any necessary updates. Thanks to these PCB-induced program changeovers, multiple products can be manufactured simultaneously on a single line. Even the conveyors adapt automatically to the width of the circuit boards being transported. And in case of a family setup, these product changeovers can be executed with no operator assist whatsoever.
The intelligent factory does more than control the machines based on data – it also supports the most important production resource of all: people. Scarce specialists are no longer tied to a specific line but can be deployed across the entire shop floor based on their soles and qualifications. To do this, the state-of-the-art staff management application in WORKS interfaces with the material flow planning system. If, for example, manual support is required for a setup change, a corresponding request appears on an operator’s device automatically and with sufficient lead time. And if the task can be carried out remotely, this is done conveniently via a remote cockpit. In this way, SMT lines can be kept running continuously, making the whole factory more productive. With software for all of the factory’s maintenance and repair tasks, teams of technicians can easily balance on-demand maintenance and ongoing production tasks, effectively managing all assets from whole machines to individual nozzles. When unforeseen problems arise, an AI- and NLP-based virtual assistant with an extensive knowledge base supports root cause research and troubleshooting – and best of all, you can simply ask it questions using your voice, just like talking with an experienced colleague.
“Thanks to standardized interfaces, what belongs together is now growing together in the intelligent factory,” says Bernhard Fritz, Head of Global Marketing at ASMPT SMT Solutions. “Material flow and quality management, planning and the factory floor, man and machine – all production factors are merging into an integrative whole. And the overarching improvement goal is always the best possible utilization of existing capacities – and above all, the maximum return on investment.”
As the industry’s technology leader, ASMPT offers a broad portfolio of best-in-class products. Our solutions stand out with their perfect interaction of hardware, software and service components – powerful, smart, and ready to raise your production to a new level.