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Publication Date: 07/1/2008
Archive >  July 2008 Issue >  Special Feature: Assembly and Packaging > 

Single-Sourcing: the Production Line Problem Solver
Multiple placement machines can be configured in a single line.

Whether you're replacing an existing SMT line or adding a new one, making the3 right buying decision has its challenges. Should you pick the best-in-class process equipment and hope the pieces "play nicely" together? Or, do you rely on one vendor to recommend, or even include, other vendors in their quote with a promise to integrate the installation and training of the entire line?

Maybe you work with a manufacturer's rep and select major components from his line card. Or then again, you could go through countless comparisons of printers, placement systems, ovens, etc.

Manufacturers using a team approach to capital equipment purchases must accommodate views from each stakeholder on the team. Engineering requirements may differ from production; test and inspection needs may conflict with designs while purchasing may conflict with multiple stakeholders by looking for the most favorable ROI. But in the end, everyone must be satisfied with the final decision and level of quality produced by the line.

Many of these challenges can be overcome by identifying the most important piece of process equipment, focusing on its specifications and working from that point to complete the remaining requirements the line. We've seen this approach in the past with placement of fine-pitch devices, where the pick-and-place system was the key ingredient to successful SMT production. But what is the key ingredient today?
Some SMT lines begin with magazine systems to deliver PCBs to the screen printer.

Ever changing process needs, such as 01005, PoP and SCSP packaging have increased the complexity of building SMT boards. This effectively places screen printers in the same key ingredient class as placement systems. Reflow ovens are a mere half-step behind in importance with the implementation of no-lead solder and the lack of self-centering of components during the reflow process. Each of these challenges ups the ante.

Picking the Best Equipment
Picking the best equipment is no longer the only requirement to implementing a successful SMT line. Today, integration is the real "key ingredient" to ensure that the entire process works every time. The result is the difference between mediocrity and real success. With all the changes in the way we do business, the bottom line is still the same: increase quality and volume while reducing build costs; and do this in the face of strained resources due to layoffs and unfilled job openings (when they exist). We have more to do in less time, creating more opportunities for errors as our attention is fragmented across multiple, simultaneous priorities.

That makes it more critical than ever to find the right equipment supplier — a partner not only with the right products, but also with the process know-how and stability to support your needs as you grow and evolve.

Who really is the best supplier for your needs? Is it the vendor that has the best placement system? Or maybe it's a legacy supplier — the one that you've been doing business with for years. Then again, it might be someone that designs and builds the entire line, and uses the same equipment in their own factories, and is a recognized manufacturing leader for brand name consumer products. What would happen if you could take a page from their playbook and write it into you own?

Supplier Support
Your equipment supplier should be an organization that can do more than simply deliver an integrated line. Your supplier must go beyond the basics and to stay up to date to understand what it takes to build boards cost effectively. They need to understand your market and the economic forces that impact your ability to survive and grow. Your supplier should be considered a valued partner to your manufacturing team, not as just another outside vendor.

Yes, ultimately the responsibility rests with you and your team to ensure that everything is on-budget, on-time and operational on-schedule. Yet having an equipment supplier as part of your extended team can help your manufacturing engineers integrate systems for today and tomorrow in a smooth transition.
Spacing between lines can allow operators access to monitor 2 lines at once. 

In the early stages of your relationship, selecting a sole-source supplier ensures that all of your specifications and requirements are met as a complete line by qualifying the overall process needs. It's not just a question of conveyor heights and SMEMA signals. It's having a fresh set of hands to handle some of the initial details needed ensure a smooth implementation and to relieve some of the burden placed on your already limited resources.

Pre-delivery planning is the first key to a successful installation. Who is responsible for ensuring that all of the facility requirements are available and accurate with sufficient time to run electric power lines and compressed air lines to the right locations?

Your sole-source supplier can provide a complete turn-key package for pre-delivery preparation of your facility. They include a complete plan drawing of the line indicating electric, compressed air, exhaust and other utility drops with accurate dimensions for your electricians and plumbers. All of the appropriate specifications are listed in a clear, concise manner in a single document reducing any confusion at the actual installation.

Single Shipment
Reducing delays in installing a new SMT line can be as simple as having all the pieces delivered at the same time. When the screen printer, placement machines, reflow oven and all the appropriate conveyors show up at your dock in a single truck or container, it streamlines the entire installation and commissioning process.
Consistent alignment of lines during installation provides a clear visual indication of line operation. 

Using individual vendors for each piece of the line can lead to scheduling conflicts causing delays in commissioning the line. A sole-source vendor takes the responsibility for every phase of the installation. And it's easy to rapidly complete the task when all the equipment is delivered together in the same shipment.

As a process savvy partner, your sole-source supplier knows the equipment and process. That enables the installation training to be more than just a basic class on how to power on and start the line. Calling that vendor for support can result in the support engineer shaking his head since the machine is working correctly. This leads to a call to the vendor of the next machine suspected of causing the error. And so on, until support staff declares that their product is in perfect working order. Yes, each vendor has a dedicated support team, but it's only for their specific product.
Partnering with a process knowledgeable vendor brings additional resources to your operation.

With a sole-source partner, you make one call that dispatches a trained process professional to properly diagnose the entire line. They review the operation of the line as a complete system, verify the process parameters and resolve the error.

Using one-source for the complete line increases your chances for success when placing your order, installing the line and maintaining the equipment over its useful life.

There are a number of benefits to using one source for a solution to this complex requirement. Of course there are additional benefits to building a relationship with a successful, global supplier that is also a leading consumer manufacturer.

Just imagine having one team uncrate, prepare the machines for installation, align the conveyors and perform the initial power on checks. Experienced, knowledgeable process-savvy technicians verify the machine configurations and qualify the overall process before starting a familiarization tour of the new line for your staff. The same team trains your staff from the front of the line to the end of the line. It's a concept that's virtually unheard of in today's market, and it can be your line to success.

Contact: Dynatech Technology, Inc., 103 Rock Rd., Horsham, PA 19044 215-675-3566 fax: 215-675-4259 E-mail: Web:

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