ASTER Collaborates with IPC and Keysight to Demonstrate Full CFX Support at productronica

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ASTER Technologies, a leading provider of high-level software tools for optimizing PCB Assembly and Test, announces a series of innovations designed to stimulate adoption of the IPC Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) standard by the electronic manufacturing industry.

IPC-CFX, as part of the Connected Factory Initiative, is a consensus-based standard, for “plug & play”, omnidirectional, Industrial IoT (IIoT) data exchange, across all vendors. It connects every process: automated, semi-automated and manual, to enable smart, digital, computerized Industry 4.0 operations. It, therefore, reduces the number of Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) to one, providing a single interface connection to Enterprise Systems.


This year at Productronica Munich, the Connected Factory Initiative task group, pulls the entire industry together to showcase real-time standardized IoT machine data collection and monitoring, powered by CFX. The SMT & Assembly CFX data monitoring demonstration line comprises of; PCB handler, oven, screen printer, solder paste inspection, optical inspection and in-circuit tester. Each machine publishes its own activities, using CFX messaging. State-of-the-art software such as ASTER’s QUAD® analyses the CFX messages and generates real-time analytical reports, such as OEE (overall equipment effectiveness), unit counts, and First Pass Yield (FPY).

QUAD (QUality ADvisor) is a software suite built around a centralized database for optimizing and streamlining the collaboration between different disciplines to improve productivity, quality and reliability. It has been designed to provide traceability of any board /systems electronic production data. It offers powerful support for PCBA fault diagnosis and collects board repair data, for paperless repair. QUAD provides access to detailed information in real-time, that can be presented clearly and precisely using advanced reporting. By providing an open data viewing software environment, it allows real time monitoring of manufacturing issues to improve yield. It also supports links to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, finite capacity scheduling, SPQ/SPC modules, and complex bills of materials (BOMs) and engineering change orders (ECOs).

ASTER is an active member of the CFX committee and is collaborating with assembly, test and inspection machine providers to reach an unprecedented level of CFX functionality. During Productronica 2019 and for the first time in Europe, ASTER introduces 3 major functionalities, powered by QUAD through IPC-CFX: Assembly line control, Fault diagnosis and Total CFX connectivity.

For assembly line control, QUAD collects the IPC demonstration line CFX messages from each machine and displays the “Work-in-Process” (WIP) status in real-time. It provides a strategic report that indicates the boards held at each process step and helps to understand the capital investment that could be unlocked, by the removal of the bottleneck.

Among the active contributors, ASTER has collaborated with Keysight Technologies to show how CFX messages can be analysed to unlock the power of in-circuit test (ICT). The demonstration illustrates the benefits of standardized CFX messages, generated by Keysight i3070 Series 6 In-Circuit Test, to perform Statistical Process Control (SPC) and Fault diagnosis. Using statistical techniques, SPC applied to electrical measurement allows control of the manufacturing process and reduce variations. In high-volume industries like Automotive, where repair is not allowed, fault-diagnosis becomes key to understanding the root cause and organize preventative remedial actions. QUAD includes a number of dedicated technologies to perform SPC and facilitate diagnostics, such as interactive fault-tickets, fault-advisor, and short-circuit analyser.

Total CFX connectivity: SMT & assembly lines are usually composed of 5 to 10 machines from various vendors. Some machines are fully compatible with the latest CFX messages, or will be. Some legacy machines will never be CFX compatible. Does it mean that 100% CFX is an unreachable target? No, with its CFX Machine Enabler, ASTER is able to bridge any non-CFX legacy machines and deliver standard CFX messages to the broker. It, therefore, becomes easy to interconnect all machines to a native CFX traceability solution.

For more information, or to get a demonstration of these new features, why not visit ASTER Technologies at Hall 1, stand number 232 during productronica 2019.



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