Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Tracking Components at The Sony UK Technology Centre

Counting SMT components on reels can present a dilemma. Conventional counting systems are slow, error-prone and can even result in component losses and damage to the material being counted. They require far too much operator time and delay the availability of reels for further builds. They rely on manual processes: determination of the component pitch, start and end positions of occupied tape, the recording of results and subsequent data entry to an ERP system.

However, if you don't count material after use, you may only know your true attrition when a reel is exhausted. At that point, the consequence may be that a vital build can not be completed.

Handling attrition with these components can be significant. It will probably far exceed material lost during placement, especially in high mix/low volume manufacturing environments.

To deal with these problems, The Sony UK Technology Centre has recently installed Seratel's Reel aMounts component counting system at its plant in Pencoed, Wales.

Inventory Accuracy
The manufacturing team at Sony Pencoed already uses IT systems that record the expected usage of components based on bills of materials, together with losses reported by production equipment. However, a lack of knowledge of components lost in handling has meant that inventories could not be accurate. Hence there was a risk of unexpected component shortages leading to production delays.

Counting all reels used at the end of each production run was simply impractical using traditional component counters. Besides the employee time and delays involved, additional process steps requiring manual data entry were unacceptable.

However, Reel aMounts makes this counting fast and simple. With Seratel's help, Sony has also closely integrated Reel aMounts with both its Automount MRP manufacturing system and Oracle ERP.

Simple Operation and Integration
Reel aMounts provides high speed counting for tape-and-reel components by linking a computer, electronic weighing scales, bar code scanner, bar code printer and a database of component types. Patented technology, unique to the system, is used to provide accurate results in a field where weigh counting has otherwise failed.

When a reel is returned from production, the operator places it on the Reel aMounts scales and scans a bar code on the reel. The system counts the reel instantly and also warns the operator if this is moisture-sensitive material that needs to be returned to a bag.

The operator then simply scans a Reel aMounts "command" bar code. This one action has the effect of recording the count details in a database, printing a new label for the reel, logging the material back into the warehouse, updating the reel quantity in Automount MRP and posting the material usage (including attrition) to Oracle, in a transaction which identifies the individual reel involved.

Not Only Tape-and-Reel
Although counting SMT material in tape-and-reel format is where Reel aMounts presents the greatest advantages over other methods, it can be used to count virtually any component in any container.

For example, it can count PTH/axial parts, tubes, strips and loose components. It can be used to issue exact quantities of loose components for a kit, counting them in lin bins, labelling each bin and printing a list of all materials issued.

Counting Reels in Feeders
Sony keeps some commonly used materials permanently in feeders. This is not a problem for Reel aMounts. The feeder and reel are placed together on the scales, the operator scans an additional bar code on the feeder and the system calculates the correct quantity, as it would if the reel were on its own.

A recent upgrade to Reel aMounts means that reels which are loaded in twin-track feeders (where one feeder services two reels) can now be counted with the same ease. This same upgrade also means that for many makes of placement equipment, it is possible to count reels loaded in feeders, while the feeders are still mounted in the pick- and-place machine.

Flexible Labelling
Reel aMounts allows the user to design his or her own reel label formats, and even to have multiple formats for different scenarios. Additional information, such as a date code, can be requested from the operator and entered by a bar code scan. Seratel and Sony have worked together to take maximum advantage of this flexibility. The label used by Sony Pencoed shows:

  • Sony's part code and the component description.
  • The new quantity on the reel.
  • The Automount MRP ID for the reel, both in human readable and bar code form.
  • The type of feeder to be used with the component.
  • Whether or not the material is moisture sensitive.
  • Whether or not the material is RoHS-compliant.
  • The employee who processed the reel.
  • The unique ID assigned to the reel by Reel aMounts.
  • The proprietary bar code that allows Reel aMounts to count the reel instantly without further operator input.

Handling Multiple Stocks
Sony Pencoed produces a range of high technology state of the art Broadcast and Professional Cameras and Camera systems for world wide markets. In addition, the plant also offers a Collaborative Manufacturing Solutions (CMS) service, manufacturing products for other companies.

Because of this, Sony has to manage two separate materiel stocks. Reel aMounts allows new reels of components to be tagged as belonging to either the camera or CMS division. From then on, the unique reel ID placed on all reels by Reel aMounts is used to ensure that the appropriate inventory is automatically adjusted — in one of two Automount MRP systems, and for the correct owner organization in Oracle.

Web-Based Reporting
For every counting transaction, Reel aMounts generates a database record with over 20 items of information about that individual count. Reel aMounts Reporting Centre — an extensive, web-based reporting system — then provides both management statistics and detailed analysis of the data, including traceability down to the individual reel.

Information can also be forwarded to an ERP system, printed as reports or exported to Excel for further analysis.

Since the Reporting Centre runs inside a web browser, it can be provided to any employee within the company, without any installation being required on that person's PC.

Seratel provides computer systems to aid electronics manufacturing. For 15 years, its systems have been used worldwide by leading OEMs and EMS providers.

Contact: Seratel Ltd., Mulrany, Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland +353 98 36244 fax: +353 98 36024 E-mail: info@seratel.ie Web:

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