ASM Visualizes the Smart Factory with Augmented Reality, CFX Demo, Workflow Solutions


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At the recent IPC APEX EXPO 2018 in San Diego, California, SMT solutions provider ASM Assembly Systems shed a special spotlight on its capabilities for smart factory implementation. The Hermes Standard and the new IPC CFX Standard were buzzy topics at the ASM booth, underlining the increasing need for standardization in electronics manufacturing to achieve a more integrated, transparent production floor.

Visitors to the ASM booth were able to see the capabilities of CFX with ASM machines via a link provided by the IPC: they were able to access live data on the machine status. An Augmented Reality tour at the ASM booth guided visitors through vital workflows in an electronics production and visualized data and information flow as facilitated by ASM solutions, giving show delegates a view into the efficiencies that can be gained through workflow optimization. After the tour, guests were invited to the ASM café, where top electronics companies and members of the SMT Smart Network share their stories in a series of videos about successful implementation of ASM workflow solutions.

"In order to fully support electronics manufacturers on their move towards a more integrated, automated and smarter production, equipment manufacturers need to look beyond what is happening at their machines only," explains Mark Ogden, ASM Senior Manager, Regional Marketing for the Americas. "Developing standards, smart software solutions and working closely together with customers and partners to understand their processes: at ASM, we are actively driving all of these topics. ASM's technologies provide a comprehensive approach to workflow management for the entire factory operation to raise efficiency, increase quality and provide extreme flexibility."

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Figure 1: The ASM booth was set up to reflect a typical SMT production floor and included stations for four line workflows (Planning, Virtual Production, Preparation, Production) and four factory workflows (Factory Monitoring, Process Optimization, Material Management, Factory Integration).

At the ASM exhibit, the SMT solutions provider highlighted its various efforts in fully realizing Smart Factory concepts in electronics manufacturing: its active participation in the development and implementation of new open standards, close collaboration with the members of the SMT Smart Network and broad portfolio of solutions for each major workflow in electronics production were prominent topics at the ASM booth.

Hermes Standard and CFX for Open Communication on the Shop Floor

The increasing need for open standards was a prominent topic at IPC APEX EXPO 2018. ASM highlighted its participation in The Hermes Standard initiative. The Hermes Standard, which debuted in 2017, is an open, modern and much more powerful alternative to the obsolete SMEMA standard. The TCP/IP- and XML-based protocol of The Hermes Standard makes it possible to transport circuit boards through all stations of the line with full traceability and no loss of data while minimizing the need for reading devices such as barcode scanners. By employing well established technologies like XML and TCP/IP, The Hermes Standard works with easily available and affordable cables and connectors – something that used to be a major challenge with SMEMA during service calls and especially when lines had to be reconfigured. In addition, the standard's protocol-based instead of signal-based specification makes for easy implementation and advancement.

Also featured at the ASM booth was a live demo of the IPC's new open standard CFX, which is designed to facilitate data exchange between production equipment and superimposed systems to support electronics manufacturers in accessing and accumulating machine information, and analyzing it to drive production efficiency. CFX therefore presents a logical counterpart to The Hermes Standard, with the latter supporting horizontal integration along the line and the former aiding vertical communication between the production lines and superordinate systems. For the live demo at APEX, two virtual ASM machines were sending various status data throughout the week to the CFX-powered cloud and gave real-time information to the visitors' smart phones, e.g. on how many boards had been processed and whether the machine was currently running or had stopped.

Solutions for Eight Central Workflows

An Augmented Reality tour guided visitors through the exhibits at the ASM booth, which was set up to reflect a typical SMT production floor and included stations for four line (Planning, Virtual Production, Preparation, Production) and four factory workflows (Factory Monitoring, Process Optimization, Material Management, Factory Integration).

Highlighted solutions included demonstrations of SiCluster Professional and ASM Line Planner software, DEK printer programming for offline creation of printer programs, SIPLACE Material Set Up Assistant for operator guidance for material logistics, DEK NeoHorizon and DEK Horizon 8 printers as well as SIPLACE SX and SIPLACE TX placement platforms. SIPLACE Line Monitor alerts of pending component replenishment requirements and now also includes oversight of printer consumable levels. ASM ProcessExpert uses stencil Gerber data and its broad knowledge base to make print process input (stencil type, solder paste, squeegee length, PCB support tooling and clamping) and parameter (print speed, print pressure, separation speed and cleaning rate) recommendations.

Real-Use Cases from the SMT Smart Network

Putting these workflow technologies into practice, the SMT Smart Network reference customer videos illustrated how an ASM partnership is paying dividends. The SMT Smart Network is a lose association of electronics manufacturers from all over the globe, designed to help them share experiences and best practices for Smart Factory concept implantation together with ASM.

Across applications as diverse as automotive, LED lighting, industrial and power storage, and integrating different workflow systems like preparation, virtual production and material management, the customer videos detailed in concrete, bottom-line terms what workflow optimization can deliver in resource savings, reduced downtime and yield improvement.

"With the combination of the augmented reality tour and actual experiences of our customers, visitors to the ASM booth got the rare opportunity to see the conceptual through to the practical all in one go," says Ogden.

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