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Special Topics: Lean manufacturing & Six Sigma
Lean manufacturing considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. "Lean" is centered around creating more value with less work.

Six Sigma, using a set of quality management methods, seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing causes of defects and variability in manufacturing. Each Six Sigma project carried out within an organization follows a defined sequence of steps and has quantified financial targets--cost reduction or profit increase.

Kaizen, Japanese for "improvement", focuses on continuous improvement in manufacturing activities.

Statistical Process Control (SPC) is an effective method of monitoring a process through the use of control charts.

Learn about these and other business and process improvement tools and philosophies here.
Articles & Papers
EMS
Monday, June 8, 2009Lean Sigma, an approach that has been in practice for several years, mixes the lean manufacturing concept and problem solving approach with Six Sigma for a more efficient manufacturing process.

Tools & Methods for Lean Production Management in EA
Monday, June 16, 2008Lean manufacturing is far from a new concept, and many within the electronics assembly (EA) industry are already familiar with the principles and concepts behind it.

SPC and usage difficulties in SMT
Tuesday, November 18, 2008The idea of monitoring manufacturing processes using statistical methods goes back to the 1920s when Walter A. Shewhart, an American physicist, engineer and statistician, was engaged by the Western Electric Company in Chicago to find a way to produce their products with a certain quality level. 

Placement optimisation in a lean manufacturing environment
Wednesday, February 6, 2008Tier 2 and Tier 3 EMS companies face increasing pressure from competition in low-cost manufacturing countries to produce assembled boards at lower cost, with increased complexity and to tighter deadlines.

6.10 – Inventory management: combining business intelligence & material handling hardware
Monday, January 8, 2007Most business intelligence (BI) tools and supply chain management (SCM) applications address inventory issues from either a software perspective or a material handling perspective;.
Efficient line changeover: the key to lean manufacturing
Monday, April 6, 2009Changes in the domestic printed circuit board assembly industry have resulted in a dominant shift to a high-mix, low-volume (HMLV) manufacturing environment resulting in a high frequency of line changeovers.

Solder-bearing RF shields streamline PCB assembly, reduce costs, improve quality and eliminate signal leakage
Thursday, October 31, 2013This Tech Bulletin addresses the specific challenges involved with soldering RF shields to PCBs and explains how using solder-bearing technologies to pre-apply solder to the shields can significantly improve assembly processes and productivity, while enhancing quality of the final product.  
This issue has become especially important with the widespread requirements for RF shielding that is used in small form-factor products such as Smartphones, tablets and other handheld devices that require consistent quality within very high-volume production environments.

Nanotechnology and mathematical methods for high–performance thermal interface materials
Monday, June 16, 2008Higher power chips have resulted from a variety of new developments in the electronics industry.

 

Parts management
Tuesday, January 4, 2011Almost 30 years after the fact, we’re still asking PCB designers to “build their own fonts” (so to speak) on a daily basis, to great expense.
 
Videos
Hitachi at IPC APEX Expo 2011
Matt Wyglendowski introduces the new Sigma platform from Hitachi. The focus of the machine is flexibility, high speed placement and accuracy, and offers one of the largest component ranges in the industry.
MYDATA Automation at IPC APEX Expo 2009
Brian Duffey introduces the Flow Line for lean manufacturing.
Valor Division of Mentor Graphics Corporation SMT/HYBRID/PACKAGING 2011
Michael Ford shows off some interesting new materials management products from the Valor Division of Mentor Graphics, which are of incresaing interest to manufacturers during this time of component and materials shortages.
CES14 Audi
Global SMT Columnist Phil Stoten speaks to Marcus Keith, GM, Project Management for AUDI at CES 2014 in Las Vegas
Cogiscan at productronica 2011
Trevor Galbraith interviews André Corriveau, Co-President, Product Management of Cogiscan at productronica 2011 in Munich
Vi Technology at SMT/HYBRID/PACKAGING 2010
Chris Davies, Vi Technology's sales director, shows off the 5K Perform for high-quality, high-reliability detection for boards up to 535 mm square. Equipped with Vi Technology's proven vision technology, it can inspect components down to 01005.
DEK at SMT/HYBRID/PACKAGING 2011
Stefan Techau talks about the three new highlights of their product range: ProActiv, which enhances print quality; Nano-ProTek for coating stencils for improved yield; and HawkEye inspection software.
MVP at APEX IPC Expo
Machine Vision Products had five new product offerings, including the MVP Ultra V which has an accuracy of 3-5 µm, an 8 megapixel camera and a speed increase over its predecessor of 40 percent. The Ultra SPI system is a combination of 2D and 3D with a speed reaching 5" per second. The system uses real-time data resulting in very low false call rates. Another new introduction is the ID Code for bottom side inspection of selective soldering inspection and bar codes. MVP also launched two line management software systems. For more information, please visit: www.machinevisionproducts.com Video Editor: Elisangela Dahlke
WKK TECHNOLOGY PARK
From humble beginnings as a tiny single sided PCB shop in the early 50's, Hong Kong based Wong's Kong King International (Holdings) Limited (WKK) has today become one of the largest electronics industrial equipment distributors in Asia under the stewardship of Chairman and CEO Mr. Senta Wong. Its Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) business of WKK Technology Ltd. (WKKT) pulls rank as the world's Top 17th EMS business in 2005, when it made a quantum leap from its 23rd position in 2003. WKK is an EMS company which provides manufacturing services to global customers in the USA, Europe, Japan and Asia Pacific. For us, international certification is critical so there is "common understanding" regarding Quality Level and System which is what WKK strongly stands by. WKK have a specially built leisure facility for their workers and test sources of water and food for their health and wellbeing. They also take care of their people by providing clinical services, convenience store, gymnasium, computer/library, theatre/TV rooms etc. They wholeheartedly encourage everyone to develop whole person skills as they provide ample training and job rotation opportunities. For more information, please visit: http://www.wkkintl.com
From our Columnists
Thermal management, part 2
Friday, August 12, 2011Last month opened this discussion of thermal management, providing background as to the importance of thermal management predicated on transistor density increase, and the rise in on-chip frequencies that are combining to increase thermal energy densities on the IC.
Thermal management, part 1
Wednesday, July 6, 2011As chip features shrink, transistor density increases, on-chip frequencies rise, and so also do the thermal energy densities on the IC.
 
 
Latest SMT Answers questions
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Latest Products
Altium Announces updates to flagship high-speed PCB design tool
Thursday, February 26, 2015

Altium Limited, a global leader in Electronic Design Automation, Native 3D PCB design systems (Altium Designer®, CircuitStudio®, PCBWorks®, CircuitMaker®), ECAD design data management (Altium Vault®), and embedded software development toolkits (TASKING®), has announced the next update to its flagship PCB design tool, Altium Designer. Altium Designer 15.1 will introduce several new features for improved design productivity, documentation outputs, and high-speed design efficiency.

New selective soldering system from Manncorp for under $60K
Friday, February 13, 2015The IS-T-300 from Manncorp is an all-in-one selective fluxing and soldering system designed to deliver outstanding quality and consistent, efficient performance at a price point that insures a quick return on investment. For only $59,995, the IS-T-300 comes fully-equipped with advanced features like laser-controlled wave height compensation, high-precision jet-fluxing, and CAD data import. The IS-T-300 handles double-sided and mixed technology PCBs up to 300 x 500 mm, with an option for 460 x 700 mm boards.

Cable assemblies "Made in Germany"
Friday, February 6, 2015For over 20 years, Yamaichi Electronics Deutschland GmbH has been a competent partner in the assembly of high-quality cables in industrial and medical technology. This all-in-one service including design and project management in Munich and production locations in Frankfurt (Oder) guarantees fast, flexible handling and high quality.
Count On Tools Inc. expands Panasonic nozzles for NPM equipment
Tuesday, February 3, 2015Count On Tools Inc. (COT), a provider of precision components and SMT spare parts, announces that it now offers a complete line of nozzles for the Panasonic NPM machines. These nozzle designs enable highly accurate, repeatable, optimized chip placement. The NPM Series equipment optimizes the latest technologies into a lean modular solution for changing, expanding and evolving electronic assembly needs.
Count On Tools Inc. to launch INSTOCK consignment program for SMT nozzles, tooling and consumables
Tuesday, January 27, 2015Count On Tools Inc. (COT), a provider of precision components and SMT spare parts, is launching an innovative program designed to give EMS companies on-demand access to high-quality SMT nozzles, tooling and consumables for more than 20 of the top pick-and-place equipment vendors. The INSTOCK Consignment Program has been developed to give EMS companies and contract manufacturers immediate access to project-critical products with no up-front inventory costs or risk of overstock.
Altium updates next generation Altium Vault for collaboration and ECAD design data management solution
Thursday, January 22, 2015Released in June 2014, Altium Vault 2.0 manages product versions and releases, design reuse and design library management, provides a platform for real-time collaboration, and even manages installation deployment and configuration. Altium Vault 2.1 improves workflow and usability for day-to-day operations saving even more time and reducing the risk of human error.

The SIPLACE Material Tower optimizes the flow of materials on the production floor
Wednesday, January 21, 2015With its SIPLACE Material Tower, ASM Assembly System presents its first automated storage system for SMT-specific materials management applications. The climate cabinet, which is available in two sizes, is fully integrated with the SIPLACE Material Manager software. And by interlocking the input and output processes, the SIPLACE Material Manager provides total inventory transparency.
Count On Tools Inc. shows 5S compatibility of PB Swiss Tools color code product line
Friday, January 16, 2015Count On Tools (COT), Inc., a provider of precision components and SMT spare parts, announces that PB Swiss Tools’ Color Code series supports the work process based on the 5S and Kaizen method: Sort • Set in order • Shine • Standardize • Sustain. By optimizing tool search times, travel times and wait times, companies can experience cost savings. New color coding makes it easy to quickly locate, assign and safely apply the right tool.
New inline printer is the most advanced in its class at less than $60K
Monday, December 22, 2014With the features, performance, and build-quality of systems twice its price, Manncorp’s new AP430 Fully-Automatic Inline Stencil Printer brings affordability to leading-edge, solder paste printing technology.  Capability for 01005 chips, µBGAs, and 12-mil ultra-fine-pitch components is now at a price point that will fit even the most modest budgets of surface mount manufacturers who require full automation and high throughput.
 
Manufacturers
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