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"Data are the basis to increase efficiency, to avoid errors and to create more value, for example through prevention and prediction services. SMT manufacturers and other production companies are faced with the challenge of having to collect and analyze the data accordingly in order to be able to develop such services," explains Peter Bollinger, CEO of iTAC Software AG, and adds: "The data must be transmitted to higher-level systems in an easy and reliable way. However, in SMT production there are machines and systems from different manufacturers and of different ages that use different communication methods. This complicates data transfer and analysis."
The higher-level systems such as MES, ERP, analytics and IIoT platforms therefore often access the information in different ways. To help ease this process, standards such as IPC-CFX are supposed to be established in the market. The CFX standard is used for vertical communication and enables data upload and download as well as analysis.
"The disadvantage in this case is that CFX is only compatible with newer machines. Older machines, which have been used for up to 20 years in some cases, do not benefit from this. And not all machine manufacturers are able to adapt their systems accordingly "overnight". Even newer machines will not all have CFX interfaces," explains Peter Bollinger.
Processing machine data independent from manufacturer and platform
iTAC Software AG has therefore developed the iTAC.SMT.Edge. The data is combined on the shopfloor by means of a machine integration platform based on an edge solution and distributed to the higher-level systems such as MES, ERP, etc. via a direct interface. There is a large library of specialized software interfaces for each type of device from different manufacturers and they can easily be connected to configurable adapters.
The solution allows the acquisition of manufacturer- and platform-independent machine data in any format - via a standard protocol or proprietary. There are different types of interface and the operator can easily select which machine is involved and with which interface. After the entry, the system identifies the communication type and provides the corresponding data.
Edge technology is the basis for easily recording, linking and analyzing the data of all SMT machines in a production line in real time. With this, it is possible to identify how the drop rates of a pick & place machine are distributed to the individual placement heads or nozzles. It is also easier to track errors and establish correlations between AOI and pick & place data. It is also easier to track errors and establish correlations between AOI and pick & place data.
Requirement for process optimization and creation of value
Peter Bollinger describes the benefits as follows: “The gained qualified data form the basis for optimizing production processes and product quality and also for developing new business models. The result is a high level of transparency and insights into machines and processes that lead to optimization. With the edge technology, a high level of data sovereignty is reached because the information is processed on the edge and does therefore not leave the customer network. Since they do not have to cover long distances to remote clouds or other things, it is also possible to act in real time - a crucial prerequisite for AI-based processes, for example."