SMTA International Conference Proceedings


Author: Kyle Klatka
Company: GenRad
Date Published: 9/12/1999   Conference: SMTA International

Abstract: Market competition and the ever-cost conscience customer have forced companies to continuously review costs and consider every opportunity to gain a competitive advantage leading to increased profits. The production process is one of several distinct business functions in an organization's value chain. Various cost drivers affect each business function. Production's primary cost drivers include direct manufacturing labor, cycle time, and quantities of line set-ups, engineering change orders, and units produced. According to a recent study that correlated cost data with assembly environment parameters, cycle time (kit release to shipping) and yearly volume represent the two leading cost drivers in production. In order to maximize the number of shippable production units and minimize cycle times, the process engineer must maximize yield and machine utilization. Minor improvements in either process yield or machine utilization can lead to significant improvements in overall cost reduction, and thus profitability. The gains become more dramatic given fixed market windows for high tech products and increased profit potential during the new product introduction period.

Process engineers continuously consider more effective methods to manage the numerous factors that affect yield and process line machine utilization. Each station on the PCB assembly line (i.e., pick-and-place, reflow oven, ect..) produces a plethora of information that can be analyzed to identify process improvement opportunities. Recent focus on machine interoperability standards by NEMI's Plug & Play Factory Project promises to facilitate PCB process line data collection & analysis and control tasks. If data can be efficiently and economically transferred between the manufacturing equipment and a common database, analytical methods can be employed to quickly gain process visibility and knowledge. Enhanced process visibility enables process engineers to rapidly address process instability (leading to reduced rework and increased yield) and increase utilization (leading to increased capacity). New software applications that leverage machine interoperability standards (e.g., GEM - generic equipment model) and advanced web-enabled mark-up languages (e.g., XML) will employ these analytical methods to improve the way that process engineers manage the shop floor line, and thus, proactively address issues that affect the organization's profitability. Specifically, Shop Floor Line Management application software provides real-time access to pertinent process data and facilitates corrective responses to PCB process instability. This paper discusses the cost and benefits that a company may realize by implementing a Shop Floor Line Management system.

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