Optimal Electronics Sets Sight on Growth


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Las Marias: How should these issues be addressed?

Vujosevic: I think we have everything right now but machine designs. I mean, we have controllers, we have software, and machine to machine communication will happen. We have robots, we have automated guided vehicles (AGVs) that we can control for machine delivery, we have sensors, but the most important problem is that machines need to be re-designed. Because nothing new has happened in this industry for decades. Although, you hear that we lose jobs because of automation. That’s not true in the electronics industry. There’s no automation at all. Everything is the same as it was 20 years ago. Now, people are introducing robots, but not in many companies. It’s going to happen, but there are some technologies, like cloud computing, that’s not going to happen any time soon because of security problems. In the U.S., nobody wants to do anything with that in the manufacturing industry. Okay, you can share iTunes and Amazon stuff, but nobody in the manufacturing industry wants to cloud anything. There are some technologies that are well-developed, but the machine designs are the most critical. They need to re-design the machines to support operator-free operation.

Fig1_Optimal_Nov2017.jpg

Las Marias: What about the inspection side?

Vujosevic: There are a lot of efforts to provide feedback and feed forward from inspection. Koh-Young is doing some really good stuff about that, for example. Our company now is involved in developing an AI-based system for intelligent process control. Right now, every test machine has some kind of statistical process control and charting, but nobody uses that. It is left to operators to fix the problem and often the easiest fix is to wash the board and do it again without addressing the underlying problem.

You've got an SPI machine and you see the process chart and nobody even looks at that. When there is a problem with the board, they will bring it back to the screen printer and redo it without ever considering what is wrong with the process. What we need an intelligent process control where the system will monitor every test machine, every line, and decide and even predict when a process will get out of control, or predict a trend, you know, predict the next measurement, next point, and issue alarms or even stop the line. We need that for lights-out electronics assembly, and that can be achieved by an intelligent software. We want to take the operator out of the process control loop and achieve defect free self-correcting lines.

To read the full version of this article, which appeared in the November 2017 issue of SMT Magazine, click here.

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