Thu, 24 Jun 2021

How to Improve the PCB Assembly Process?

19 Nov 2020, 19:51 GMT+10

The primary purpose of PCB (Printed Circuit Boards) manufacturing is to transform a design made with software into a useful device, a PCB that contains specific, defined components and connections. Each assembly stage builds on the previous one and contributes to the final product, with all the tracks, holes, solder points, and any additional markings, such as logos or texts. We know how complicated PCB assembly is, so we have some great tips for you to help you improve the PCB assembly process.

PCB assembly takes place in stages, the number of which depends on the specifics of a given project. The performance of each one determines the overall performance and quality of the PCB assembly. The whole process is very complicated, and many factors influence its success, so, in this article, we will not discuss the entire process. Instead, we will discuss important issues that we believe can affect the PCB assembly's efficiency and quality.

Limit the number of replacements

At first glance, it may seem that a lot of component replacements on the bill of materials (BOM) have a positive effect on the PCB assembly process. This gives teams and procurement more flexibility and minimizes the risk of cluttering the production line due to missing components.

In practice, however, enough is enough. Parts supplied by individual manufacturers, even if they are very similar to each other, may physically differ in size or shape. Any deviation outside the expected tolerances may cause parts to be rejected and the line to stop. Therefore, our recommended practice is to limit the number of replacements supplied and select only one of the approved parts.

Have a few spare components

The assembly process may not always look like as we want. In practice, it is very common for a surface mount machine to drop or simply lose a component despite all due care. If you don't have any spare components, it may turn out that just one single item can disrupt the entire production schedule. Then, you have to take into account the high costs caused by idle machines.

Of course, you can continue the assembly without the missing component and adjust it later, manually. However, this is not a recommended solution, as it may reduce the quality of the device, creates the risk of damage and, above all, extends the implementation time. A more sensible solution is to take care of the spare parts before proceeding with assembly. Keeping at least a few spare components can save you a lot of time and trouble!

Implement IT solutions

Timely delivery is the driving force behind any profitable manufacturing enterprise. The key to achieving it lies in planning and reducing the duration of engineering. Take care of the implementation of IT solutions to the PCB assembly process that will support the effective planning of the surface assembly line (SMT) and all other assembly-related processes.

Optimal planning and scheduling of work is crucial for high productivity and on-time delivery. The best designers implement numerous solutions that support the overall management of the electronics process by creating accurate models of PCB assembly processes, including creating typical groups of materials used in surface mounting while determining the optimal sequence of tasks. These actions are aimed at meeting the needs of their clients.

Lean management

The effective use of Lean tools can significantly support the PCB production process by increasing efficiency, productivity, and reducing waste. Reducing inventory, improving material flow efficiency, and optimizing workstations can reduce space by up to 50%.

Lean implementation will work well for both mass production-oriented companies and companies specializing in single prototypes. In the case of activities aimed at lower or medium-sized parties, add the issue of adequate production flexibility. In this case, it is not profitable to make significant changes to the line for each order. Efficient machine operation and product flow can then be achieved by combining multiple standard orders into one batch. Additionally, modern devices contain several tools and options that allow for quick and effective adaptation of the process to various projects' requirements. This makes it easier to obtain flexibility in operations without time-consuming retooling.

The development of the PCB assembly process focuses on the modernization of production technology, which will reduce costs and increase precision in order to obtain higher quality. The manufacturer of printed circuits and other electrical components should look for all improvements in order to stay ahead of the competition.

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