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SMT vendors are commonly asked by prospective customers about their existing pick and place programs and what happens with them if they purchase another type of equipment. The customer is usually told that there is nothing that can be done with those programs and hence they need to maintain those in the old system until they migrate them to the new machines. However in Valor MSS Process Preparation we have a significant amount of capability to read both NC programs and machine libraries to enable that information to be used on another platform.
We are able to do this as we have a neutralized basis for all package types in our library. So not only can we use this central library to create part data for new programs for all common equipment types but we can also create packages by reading the part data from existing NC programs and machine libraries. Once imported in to our database, we can then export them in completely different formats that support different machines.
This capability can make the difference in selecting a new pick and place vendor as it allows existing machine programs to be reused. Now the evaluation team can assess the new equipment capability and not have to limit the choice by how existing programs are supported or not.
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Tags: approved vendor list, Assembleon, assembly, components, data preparation, Fuji, Hitachi, iPulse, Juki, manufacturing, mixed vendor, Panasonic, PCB, process, process engineering, programming, sequence, Siemens, SMT, Sony, Universal, vPlan, Yamaha
This week I would like to ask for input on assembly variants. For the context of this post I would like to state that an assembly variant is one where the base bare PCB is common to all assembly variants and that the variation is through the presence and absence of parts including part substitution of functionally different parts. Therefore using an Approved Vendor List (AVL) to substitute functionally identical parts would not be considered an assembly variant.
I am aware of customers who create assembly variants through placing or not placed a part on the board. I am also aware of customers who additionally swap similar parts out for others, such as replacing a 10K resistor for a 1K resistor. This is commonly done to localize a product for different markets around the world with different standards. I have also heard though in some cases where a resistor has been replaced with a capacitor, which would change the schematic symbol and not just the value on an electrical component. What scenarios do you use in your manufacturing environment?
My second question is related to how you manage the different data sets. Do you create a product data set for each product variant as a self-contained package or manage all variants for a common bare PCB together? There are advantages and disadvantages of both approaches so I am interested to hear how you all manage it.
Lastly, how are assembly variants managed with regard to your design environments or design customer in the case of contract manufacturers? Does the design data include the variant data directly or is it managed separately through the Bill Of Materials (BOM) file?
I hope you can share your thoughts on this subject. I believe a lot of you take advantage of assembly variants today and so I am interested in your feedback.
This may seem a strange topic for a Process Engineering Blog but bear with me on this.
Over the past few years, car manufacturers seem to be in a race to develop the cars with the highest number of gear ratios in them. Currently cars on the market have automatic gearboxes with 8 forward ratios. Manual gearboxes exist with 7 forward gears now. I have also heard about possible future gearboxes with 10 forward ratios. Given this you would think that these manufacturers would have just have followed Nissan’s lead and just have developed a CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission. In this case, effectively is a heavy duty elastic band that is used to infinitely vary the ratio between engine and drive-shaft.
Now I don’t know about you but I think a manual gearbox with 6 ratios is more than adequate and I could maybe stretch that to 7 for an automatic but that is good enough. I don’t need any more and if fuel economy is the driver, go for a CVT.
Which brings me back to this blog. We need to ensure that the solutions we develop align with our customer’s expectations and requirements and not just develop something because it would be for technology’s sake. I hope we are doing that in Valor MSS where we have plenty of feedback from you.
Many of our customers have seen an increase in the number of products that need to be grouped together to enable them to run with a single SMT setup to reduce the time taken for change-over from one product to another. The challenge is knowing which products can be incorporated in to a single group given the unique part numbers on each product and the feeder capacity of each machine in the line. Excel is very powerful but after a few products can quickly become overcome in its ability to handle many more products.
Within the Valor MSS suite we have a number of solutions to the various grouping requirements which I would like to describe for you today.
First is our standard SMT Machine Programming capability within Valor MSS Process Preparation. Here we provide the ability to manage a single group in a go-no go method. If there is sufficient capability across the machines in the line then you can keep adding more products until the capacity is exhausted. For a lot of users, this capability is sufficient for their grouping needs.
Next we provide the ability to select many more products and use the Optimization capability of Valor MSS Process Preparation to determine the minimum number of groups that are needed to support that set of products. Depending on the number of products, the number of unique part numbers and the capacity on the machines, one or more groups will be created to minimize the total number of groups needed to cover all products.
Then we also have the capability of Valor MSS Production Planning that can determine the groups needed to support hundreds and even thousands of products across multiple lines and minimize their overall production time.
So regardless of your needs for product grouping, the Valor MSS suite has the solution for you.
Here are the links to the Process Preparation and Production Planning modules of Valor MSS. Please take a look at this significant capability that we have to support SMT programming.
As the next installment of the new capability in Valor MSS 11.3, I shall today talk about the improvements we have made in the Stencil Design module of the product.
We added a number of new standard apertures to the Stencil Design with this release. These were specifically to address commonly created stencil openings that were previously challenging to create quickly. Now they are automatically created based on the existing pad of the design and then they can be easily adjusted to the specification of the required pad before being incorporated in to the stencil.
For stencil reuse purposes, each component package could have rules associated with a package or a pin. This enabled the tool to automatically use rules for packages that had been seen before. However, we were also seeing pads that were associated with a package that were not related to a pin and so we added the ability to add rules for other areas that needed paste openings that were not described as pins in the source data. The most common scenario of this would be a ground copper area under a QFP component.
Another new capability is the option to specify a corner radius as a high level requirement on all stencil apertures. The reason for this is to create smooth curves instead of right angles so that there is a good release of the stencil from the paste.
We will continue to listen to what our customers are looking for from the Stencil Design module as well as the other areas of the product. Please let me know of new capabilities that we should be adding to continue to drive our products forward.
Here is a link to the complete capability of Valor MSS Process Preparation.
I have heard of a couple of cases of PCB designs where a common pad is shared between two separate components. At it’s simplest case, two 0603 components lie end to end but instead of four pads, two for each, there are only three in total. The two pads closest to each other overlap meaning only one is visible on the board. In other words they share a common pad.
This scenario is typically done when there will be build variants on a single PCB layout but I have heard that in some cases instead of just one component of the two being fitted, both components would be fitted to a variant. I would think this would cause problems with solderability and placement accuracy when both are fitted hence why I would like your feedback on this subject to hear your views on the different scenarios.
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- Retain your existing investment in assembly programs even if you change your machines
- How do you manage your assembly variants?
- How many ratios do you need in your gearbox?
- How many products do you need to group together?
- SMT, THT, Test and Inspection Machines. Which do you use?
- New Stencil Design capability in Valor MSS 11.3
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