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Test Research Inc. (TRI) is a Taiwan-based manufacturer of PCB assembly inspection and test equipment such as AOI, SPI, AXI, and in-circuit testers. Larry Chen, global marketing supervisor, speaks with SMT007 Magazine about how the company is supporting IPC’s Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) initiative, the user interest on the standard, the challenges, and his outlook for CFX.
Stephen Las Marias: How is the company supporting CFX?
Larry Chen: We are seeing the strength of the Industry 4.0 trend, so we have developed a real-time inspection management system for managing production activities such as in-test results. We also have hardware systems that support closed-loop connections. TRI has also contributed with research on some actual projects on CFX through integration of software and hardware.
Las Marias: What do you think is the challenge that CFX is trying to address?
Chen: Actually, we believe that the CFX is a powerful standard. For example, our SPI machine is connected to a printer, but different customers have different brands of printers, the same with an AOI equipment connected at the end of a reflow oven. Different brands of machines may have different issues. So, if we have to feedback the results with other brands of inspection machines, this is the kind of challenge that a customer is facing, apart from the different interfaces of the machines. Having more machines with different brands will be a big challenge, but based on TRI’s experience, we have a real application and we are working with our customers on improving their overall interface. That’s our role.
Las Marias: From your perspective, what is the level of interest from the industry when it comes to CFX?
Chen: Based on the feedback we received during the recent shows such as productronica, IPC APEX EXPO, and SMT Hybrid Packaging, there is a certain hype; we got many inquiries from customers targeting these kinds of applications. We believe CFX has provided a standardized method for vendors to work together. And so, even if there are different brands, a generalized approach will be very helpful for users. If they adopt CFX or Hermes, they can easily see their different machine and inspection and production results, thus helping to improve their productivity and performance of their product line. These are what the users are looking for. In recent exhibitions, TRI has demonstrated support by taking part in the CFX demo.
Las Marias: Larry, what are the current challenges when it comes to adopting CFX?
Chen: Customers have different interfaces between machines from different vendors; we believe the connectivity of these machines could be a challenge. The CFX standard has been developing for only a few years—while we expect it to grow, it will be challenging at first to integrate with all of the machines. However, TRI is making it more user-friendly to help users improve their connectivity.
Las Marias: How is TRI helping its customers in their Industry 4.0 journey?
Chen: TRI has developed a system that helps trace productivity and also inspection results to help customers improve their machine connectivity and production quality. Actually, TRI is the only vendor that provides the complete inspection solutions for the EMS production line, including SPI, AOI, X-ray, in-circuit testers, manufacturing defects analyzers and functional testers.
For the benefit of the customers, TRI’s inspection systems provide inspection results from the beginning to the end of the production line. Our software can also help track the history of the products and provide reports for the user.
To achieve Industry 4.0 connectivity, the focus is on factory automation, so it’s very helpful for managers to utilize TRI solutions to track their production and also to improve their production processes. This will help them streamline their workforce and make their production smarter.
Apart from CFX, we are also working with companies such as Fuji, Panasonic, DEK, and ASM, to develop standards focused on Industry 4.0. We believe that these kinds of activities are toward a mutual benefit in trying to help customers succeed in Industry 4.0.
To read the full article, which appeared in the October 2018 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.