Of Odd-Form Assembly
Automation Of Odd-Form
Since the fall of communism, almost two billion more capitalists have been
added into the world market. With demand for consumer electronics in developing
countries escalating at double-digit rates and the volume of electronic manufacturing
on the domestic rise, complete automation solutions have become the strategic
choice for those who strive to be global market leaders. In today's extremely
fast paced and competitive electronics environment, OEM's and contract manufacturers
are forced to streamline their costs anywhere they can to compete in this
relentless industry. Today's customers want the product offering to be of
the highest quality and still be very reasonably priced. Given the amount
of global competitors vying for the same piece of business, you can be sure
someone will find the solution to do it.
spending several decades improving the automated placement
surface mount and through-hole components, the industry has
logically started shifting some of its focus to automating
odd-form assemblies. Through-hole is not likely to go away.
It has proven reliability, reasonable cost, and availability
at a time when so called "standard" components have become
scarce. The need to adopt flexible automated odd-form solutions
has never been greater. Of equal importance in the shift to
automation is the fact that labor and rework costs consistently
account for a major portion of the manufacturing expenses companies
incur daily. Both directly impact the price and quality of
products a company may offer and how quickly it can get these
products to market. Today, "product to market" cycles for the
major industry movers, like computers, disk drives, and portable
communication products are half of what they were just a couple
of years ago.
like Delco Electronics Corp., keep themselves on the leading
edge of their industry by using the latest in odd-form technology.
In fact, the recent use of automated odd-form technology has
positioned Delco Electronics as a PACE award finalist this
year and assisted the company in building an air bag crash-detection
sensor that is 47% smaller, has 48% fewer parts, and costs
58% less than its predecessor. This is just one example of
the many successes companies are experiencing as they make
the transition into the automation of odd-form assemblies.
ago automated odd-form assembly was virtually non-existent,
which left manual assembly as the only option. That has all
changed with the continued development of flexible tools designed
for odd-form assembly systems that are fast, reliable, and
low cost. It is not uncommon for current technology in the
automation of odd-form to achieve throughputs matching those
of some standard pick and place machines while achieving even
greater flexibility, accuracy and line utilization. Today,
with the advancements that have been made in the area of odd-form
assembly automation, good suppliers are able to offer solutions
that utilize a set of standard modular tools combined with
a system configuration that makes sense for the customers'
particular application. This approach allows more flexibility
for present and future projects due to the ease of simply changing
or reconfiguring the modular elements, such as assembly heads
and feeders, on the current system for use in new applications.
Assembly of odd-forms is no longer out of reach and no longer
needs to be a burden on today's manufacturers. The automation
of odd-form is a simple yet effective three-step process for
meeting the all encompassing challenges of how and when to
best use available technology to streamline your manufacturing
- Defining Your Current Requirements
The first step in the justification process is having a thorough understanding
of your company's current operation, global strategy, and the requirements
needing to be met to ensure the two are congruent. Begin by asking the following
and Budgetary Cycles - How do you justify the purchase of
capital equipment? What is important to you--labor replacement,
burdened labor rates, yield improvement, improved quality,
- When do you need the equipment on site? When is the pilot
run? What is the production start-up date?
- How many boards do you want to produce per shift?
Board Sizes - What are the maximum and minimum dimensions
of your circuit boards or carriers?
Mix - What components are placed/inserted for this application?
How many different products will be run on the line? It is
recommended that you develop a matrix for each product that
identifies the component description, packaging, and insertions
of Parts - What packaging is defined or to be defined for
the above matrix of components? Tube, Tape, Bulk, Tray? Have
you considered the packaging costs associated with each alternative?
Forming/Cutting Requirements - Do your component leads require
cutting, forming, clinching?
Interfaces - What are your requirements for interfacing with
a host and other equipment?
Space Limitations - How much floor space is available for
does beginning, with the end in mind, more clearly define your
existing operation, but it also identifies the information
that your odd-form specialist will need in determining the
best solution for your application. Also, by beginning with
complete and accurate information, supplier lead times are
likely to be reduced. This means shorter product to market
cycles, and thus, a better competitive position.
- The Cost Justification
The second step in the automation process entails a simple yet effective
method to justify the feasibility of making this transition into odd-form
automation. This formula calculates the average placement of parts, burdened
labor rate, defect rate, and repair rate for both manual and automatic assembly
lines to give a comparative cost per part for each approach. Recognize that
this isn't the only way to analyze each method, but it provides an effective
bottom line comparison. The table located below represents one of several
ways to calculate the cost justification for odd-form equipment. Once the
cost savings per part has been calculated in the justification table, you
can use the figures to calculate the ROI of the automated odd-form equipment.
return on investment can be recouped in as little as 11.8 months.
Output is increased significantly from 9000 parts to 36,000
parts per two-shift operation while the total cost per part
is reduced from $.043 for manual insertion to $.010 for automated
insertion or 77%. The line is utilized more efficiently with
greater up-times, and there is a safer more disciplined manufacturing
process in place. Some other key benefits of automation commonly
overlooked but no less important are the residual value of
the system, the versatility of the system and mix of applications
it can run, the greater quality and consistency achieved, and
lastly, the reduction in occupational safety issues.
- Making Your Recommendation to Management
When reviewing any recommendation, management expects to see intelligent
and concise proposals. Given the multiple hats most of us wear today, this
isn't always such a simple task. It's due to this scarcity of time and the
complexities of any capital acquisition that suppliers are regularly required
to provide detailed justification analysis to customers and are more than
willing and qualified to do so for you. Odd-form suppliers have become experts
in the design of flexible, reliable, cost effective solutions to meet your
present and future application needs. For these reasons, we suggest using
them to support your recommendations by having them help with the required
financial analysis and implementation plans to present to management. The
more you use your supplier as a consultant the more efficient you'll be.
justification phase of your recommendation should show the
ROI for each piece of equipment proposed and a detailed cost
analysis for the current manual lines versus the proposed automatic
line. Additionally, the implementation phase of your recommendation
should take into account the projected start date established
in Step 1 of our model and outline what training and support
will be given during start-up. You should also include any
additional training requirements on or off site. Each system
being recommended should be documented, along with its respective
specifications, to include throughput, placement accuracy,
error detection and recovery, changeover time required, feeders
required to place specified components, board location methods,
etc. It should also outline the number of operators needed
to run the new line, what requirements they should meet, and
how productivity will be tracked. In addition, a maintenance
schedule should be attached to include cleaning requirements,
mean-time-to repair, and mean time between failure. By placing
these responsibilities with your proposed supplier, you not
only make them more accountable for what they're promising
but you also lay the foundation for a solid partnership on
current and future projects.
PCB assemblers who wish to survive in this dynamic industry can no longer
afford to ignore the bottleneck created by the manual insertion of odd-form
components. Doing this compromises both the quality and speed of the
line. With rising labor rates and humans error, manufacturers can't afford
not to use the automated odd-form solutions being offered. Take time
to walk through each of the three steps recommended and expect more of
your supplier as a consultant. You'll be surprised at how easy it is
to justify the automation of your odd-form applications.
Copyright © 2000
CHAD INDUSTRIES, INC