Laborious manual procedures associated with tasks such as product changeovers
can slow down surface-mount assembly and prolong line stoppages. A combination
of advanced automation and features that enhance efficiency and flexibility can
significantly increase productivity by minimising human intervention.
Building the Smarter World
Smart “things” are becoming infused into the fabric of life. Highly automated manufacturing holds the key to producing the sheer numbers of units needed at an affordable price to be incorporated in equipment like appliances, buildings, vehicles, and industrial controls.
Minimising human intervention in setting up and changing-over high-speed surface-mount assembly lines is critical, to drive out errors, delays, and unproductive time when machines are stopped. In Europe, where manufacturers typically build a high mix of products for industrial, communication, medical, and advanced automotive applications, reducing the workload associated with product changeovers can significantly boost productivity.
Various approaches can be effective, using a combination of production-management software to minimise the setup adjustments needed during product changeover, and additional features built into the equipment itself. These can introduce various labour savings, such as eliminating laborious tasks like swapping placement heads, automating procedures like setting push-up pins, and innovations to allow routine tasks such as replenishing component reels to be done on the fly without stopping.
Reducing Changeover Workload
Using software tools to create production schedules and optimise equipment utilisation is essential. Tools provided by an equipment vendor can be especially helpful if control over key machines in the line such as screen printer, mounters, and inspection can be consolidated. These can consider the overall production requirements and the capabilities of specific lines and individual machines to create feeder configurations that are suited to building multiple different products. Suitable planning can minimise the numbers of changeovers needed on any given shift and hence avoid stoppages and human involvement. Various packages are available, such as the tools for programming and scheduling, production assistance, and M2M collaboration included in Yamaha’s YSUP intelligent factory software.
However, manufacturers need additional tools at their disposal if they are to successfully minimise machine stoppages and continue raising productivity. Any time a new setup requires a mounter to be fitted with a different placement head to handle special components, or feeders need to be changed or simply replenished, the affected machine, and often the entire line, may have to be stopped to allow skilled operators to complete the task.
There are various approaches to solving this issue. Multiple mounters may be installed inline, each setup optimally to place specific types of parts; a chip shooter dedicated to placing small, frequently