In a Culture of Continuous Improvement, Processes Continually Improve


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Defects in the manufacturing process are part of the price of doing business, most especially in the electronics assembly industry. However, not dealing with these issues head-on and right at the root cause puts productivity and quality at risk.

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Etratech’s Mike Renneboog, manufacturing manager, and Robert Clarke, process manufacturing engineer, discussed their most significant challenge to improving printed circuit board SMT line productivity and quality, and the lessons they learned along the way.

Canada-based Etratech designs develops and manufactures advanced electronic controls and control systems for OEMs. The company specializes in all aspects of electronic controls design and manufacturing for industries including automotive electronics, HVAC, medical devices, appliances, security systems and more. The company has been in operation for almost 30 years. Like many companies in its space, Etratech is very process-driven. It is a Six Sigma company with five resident Black Belts in its main facility, and bound by stringent ISO/TS regulations for which it is routinely audited.

"We take quality very seriously. But, sometimes you need to stop, step back and re-assess the situation, and the challenges that have compounded in the manufacturing process," says Renneboog. The company prides itself on a culture that strives for continuous improvement, and has multiple quality programs in place.

For Renneboog and Clarke, the main challenge of that manufacturing process was the struggle with solder paste mis-registration. "And we're talking about the whole gamut of defects,” says Renneboog. "We're talking about bridging, insufficient solder, and open solder connections. Those were our three major detractors."

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of SMT Magazine.

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