Cleaning that Matters

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Las Marias: To make your line more efficient, it makes sense to automate some processes and remove the human element, to improve the yield and minimize errors. I think from a cleaning perspective, that’s what Zestron EYE is offering.

Yeoh: Exactly. Of course, we will keep educating the market, as it will take the industry some time to fully automate that process. But we believe that two or three years down the road, it will become standard practice, especially if you have a high throughput, because customers want stability and reliability.

Las Marias: What are the developments right now in your Zestron EYE and CM technology?

Yeoh: We just had the CM, which we launched last year. It’s the continuation of Zestron EYE. We are not machine makers, so we will not spend too much time in coming up with different kinds of machines. The EYE and the CM are basically our two primary machines to ensure process capability. As to how we want to improve the technology in terms of the CM or the EYE, our R&D engineers are looking at it and we hope to come up with a new generation maybe a year or two down the road.


Las Marias: Do you also work with cleaning equipment manufacturers?

Yeoh: We work very closely with machine manufacturers, because when they want to come up with new designs of machines, but they do take our input on how to ensure that the chemical process may be improved. They do talk to us so we give our inputs. If the machine is customized, for example there are certain machines right now that are customized for certain customers, then we play a bigger role because right from day one, we are in there. But if they will come out with a new model, then they will take some input from us, such as how do we want certain nozzle designs and flows.

Las Marias: If I were a potential customer. If I were a potential customer, what are the key factors to consider when selecting a cleaning system?

Yeoh: From a commercial perspective, you need superior technical support. When we talk about the education part, with Zestron, it doesn’t matter whether you want us to go to your factory to do the training for you once, twice, three times, or even four times a year. We will be there if you request it. There’s always a need for education. Because some engineers may have just joined the company, or some have left, or even some are new graduates. You must always train them.

And then what you want is a product that can have a longer bath life. Every time you change a bath, it is a cost, so you want to have a longer bath life. At the end of the day, what you should also look for is the lowest cost per part cleaned. This requires some cooperation, as it depends on the flux loading and types of parts to be cleaned. What we can do is help our customers to optimize their cleaning system.

Most of the time, it’s not just a chemical problem; but is also a machine problem. The chemical may be able to do it, but the machine may not be able to do it. So, from a customer’s perspective, it is very important to have a three-party, or four-party—including solder paste and flux manufacturers—collaboration. We really have to sit down and look at the process. If you talk about the machine, for instance an in-line system, you must consider the way you place your nozzle, the power of the spray, etc. All these work together, not just us. Essentially, the chemical can remove the residues. But the equipment also needs to work well together.

It is not our problem alone. It is an industry problem, where I think all parties need to sit down and talk about optimizing the nozzle, spray pressure, angle, agitation, etc.

Las Marias: Is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you think we should be talking about?

Yeoh: A lot of people don’t know the importance of cleaning, which we hope to address through the academy. Every day, you may hold a product or you may come across a product that’s been cleaned by Zestron chemistry, yet you are not aware of it.

Regarding automation, automated concentration monitoring is a very important factor right now when it comes to the cleaning process. The industry is trying to optimize the processes amid increasing costs of labor and raw materials; as much as possible, every process has to be optimized and efficient.

Las Marias: Thank you very much for your time, James.

Yeoh: Thank you.



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