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Tomorrow's SMT Placement Platform Is Here Now
Feeder dolly makes changes quick and easy.

For many years, the ideal placement machine consisted of fast hardware that would be able to place ever smaller components in great numbers in established processes. Equipment makers tried to leapfrog each other in terms of machine speed and performance.

But electronics manufacturing has changed. With today's smaller lot sizes, they have no time to gradually ramp up their processes in many iterations. In the future, precision will mean perfection from the first board on. The concept of speed is also changing. In the past it referred exclusively to placement time. Other process steps were ignored, because they hardly mattered in the overall mass production context. In the future, mixed model production will become more common. The entire build process from data import, placement program creation and production scheduling all the way to production and delivery will have to be executed right-first-time and at high speed.

Consistent NPI Tools
Let's look at the NPI process, for example: As lot sizes get smaller, the NPI process is becoming dramatically more important on the production floor. Placement machines like the SIPLACE SX from ASM Assembly Systems offer a series of innovative software tools that accelerate new product introduction; they are able to accept and visualize product data in a wide range of formats. One special feature: Since the software assumes that the data will have to be modified in order to be usable, it helps the user to discover and correct errors. That way, missing components or faulty positions can be reliably recognized and fixed. In addition, new components can be quickly described — either offline or online. Even placement sequences made necessary by the board's geometry (PoPs, large components casting "shadows", etc.) can be specified and instantly made part of the placement program.

Once the placement program is complete, the user can verify it with SIPLACE Virtual Product Build in order to detect errors long before the first board enters the line. Since all these process steps can be performed offline, they will not reduce the production equipment's performance. Another requirement: When producing small lots with consigned materials or prototypes with a finite number of components, it is critically important that the placement system is capable of "right-first-time" manufacturing. To accomplish this, placement platforms of the future will have to be able to debug programs offline, as well as programming in last-minute parts on the machine in the middle of running a board.

Setup Efficiency
Mixed model production will drive manufacturers to come up with more creative setup and changeover concepts to remain efficient, despite the increasing numbers of changeovers they will need to do. The SIPLACE SX delivers on these needs; changeover tables can be virtually split to reserve a fixed portion for the production of setup families. The remaining table portions can then be used for flexible setup changes for small lots. Upon request, the SIPLACE software will even generate a delta setup that consists only of those components which are not available on the fixed setup. And since the new SIPLACE X-feeders are hot-swappable — they can be installed and removed without having to stop the line — new setups can be installed while the previous product is still running. All of this reduces kitting time, accelerates changeovers and increases overall production efficiency.

High-mix plants can even operate with Random Setup: the operators can place the SIPLACE X-feeders for upcoming products in any available slot on the line. Each SIPLACE X-feeder registers itself and the components it contains on the machine via its unique ID, the feeder can be placed anywhere on the line because the software recognizes the feeder, and the Multistar Placement head has such a huge component range and speed that it is always able to pick the part.
Adding a gantry is a simple, one-man operation.

This feature makes the new approach perfectly clear: The operator no longer follows the machine's instructions, but the machine adapts to the needs of the operator and the company.

Versatile Placement Heads
Nowhere is the paradigm change towards production flexibility more apparent than in placement head technology. The new SIPLACE MultiStar is the prime example. While traditional machine concepts are based on large numbers of special heads designed for narrow component ranges, ASM Assembly Systems has taken a totally new approach: Driven by software, the SIPLACE MultiStar switches for each placement cycle between three different placement modes depending on the respective requirements: collect-and-place, pick-and-place, and a special mixed mode. This makes it the first head that can handle components ranging in size from 01005 to 50 x 40mm, but still run at speeds up to 24,000 cph. The benefit for electronics manufacturers: the line configuration and/or the placement heads must rarely be changed when the product changes. Operators don't need to worry, because the placement program handles all the placement mode changes. Another benefit is the fact that manufacturers can keep fewer heads in stock. And when there is only one head model to worry about, investment and maintenance costs drop as well.

True Feeder Anywhere
The setup processes benefit, too: On lines with many special heads, traditional feeder-anywhere concepts quickly hit their limitations. After all, no high-speed head can handle large components. The SIPLACE MultiStar functions differently: it can place a 01005 component directly or large BGA, because it can automatically switch its placement mode. This means that the operator can place a feeder anywhere on the line, no matter how big or small a part it contains.

Adaptive Placement Solutions
Finally, what good is component or changeover flexibility if demand for the product fluctuates greatly due to economic or seasonal changes? Can a single placement platform really help a manufacturer scale his capacity up and down in line with demand?
The Multistar placement head has a huge component range and speed.

ASM Assembly Systems has positioned its SIPLACE SX as the first capacity-on-demand platform, for good reason: the machine's placement capacity can be quickly increased or decreased by adding or removing a gantry (including the placement head). This is not revolutionary per se; other manufacturers and machines offer removable gantries, too. The SIPLACE team, on the other hand, has developed special replaceable gantries for the SIPLACE SX that a single person can add or remove in only a few minutes. The machine recognizes the new configuration instantly and adjusts the placement programs automatically.

Because of this feature, a manufacturer can easily shift placement capacity from one less-used SMT line to one where it is needed. Adding the second gantry almost doubles the machine's performance. No additional floor space is needed, and the line does not have to be physically reconfigured.

But that's not all. ASM Assembly Systems also offers these gantries for rent. In high season, or when business is especially good, an EMS provider can quickly and easily ramp up his capacity by renting a few more gantries. When business slows down, he simply returns them. His accountant will be happy, too, because no investments or fixed costs are involved.

Electronics manufacturers who want to be flexible need equipment that is flexible and able to deliver high throughput. The machines must be able to handle imperfect data and last minute changes, even in the middle of production. Platforms must be able to support creative and efficient setup strategies. They must also be easily scalable. With all its advanced features, the SIPLACE SX demonstrates that the leading equipment manufacturers are designing their equipment ground up to be free of constraints to fulfill these goals.

Contact: ASM Assembly Systems, LLC, 3975 Lakefield Court, Suite 106, Suwanee, GA 30024 770-797-3000 fax: 770-797-3091 E-mail: easales.sea@asmpt.com Web:


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