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Every industry has its own set of best practices. When I was working as a clerk in a fast food restaurant during my college days, the prep station—which is where the different foods to be cooked are prepared—had a big signboard reminding everyone to use the recipe cards when preparing the many different items in the menu.
Of course, those who may have been working there for several months already had likely memorized the different ingredients needed for all of the meals on the menu. But people are not perfect. Often, not following the instructions as per the recipe card resulted in a sub-standard portioning, or bad taste or texture of the food, if not worse. This is why the best practice in that particular situation is to make sure that the recipe card is right in front of you when doing the job.
The same goes in the manual assembly lines of all contract electronics manufacturers. One of the EMS facilities I visited has a separate room where the wave soldering process is being done. In that line, a group of operators are inserting through-hole devices and components into boards before they send them to the wave soldering queue. These operators have in front of them a variety of instructions regarding the components for that particular board, the picture of the component, its dimensions, and how it should be placed or inserted on the board, and more.
Even though the operators at the end of the line are just inserting a connector or two into the boards, they still need to make sure they have the instruction cards—as a best practice—to ensure the correctness of the job they are doing.
These are just a few examples of why everyone should have some best practices of sort when it comes to the many different aspects of their operations, especially in the electronics manufacturing industry. Imagine if you’re supplying for mission-critical applications where product failure is not an option.
I believe most best practices have been developed over time, based on the many different experiences that people encounter in the manufacturing line. Some may have been set in stone from day one, but others likely were borne out of the many realizations and conclusions, perhaps after a post-mortem or evaluation of the results of the process. Some may have been passed on from generation to generation of workers as some sort of tribal knowledge.
Be that as it may, it is important to institute these best practices to make sure that your processes will result in outstanding job at the end of the day.
There many different best practices to consider for the many different aspects of electronics assembly. Of course, they may not be the correct solution for your every manufacturing issue, but at least it will be worth considering these techniques, concepts, and how they may be applied in any situation.
To read the full version of the article, which appeared in the July 2018 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.