Industry 4.0 has increased the demand for smart software platforms that make electronics manufacturing equipment work better.
By Baishakhi Dutta
Electronics and software are inseparable in today’s world. This is also the case with present day electronics manufacturing equipment, as it will not work without the right software. In fact, it’s the software that manages and automates the complete electronics manufacturing process today. According to industry veterans, the ‘smart’ factory offers huge advantages and must be seen as a long term investment to sustain and grow a business. A few advantages of a smart factory are listed below.
Lower cost: Optimised processes lead to cost efficiency. This is achieved by predictable inventory requirements, and reduced process and operations variability. A better quality process also means an integrated view of the supply network with rapid, no-latency responses, thus lowering costs further. And because a better quality process also leads to a higher quality product, it results in lower warranty and maintenance costs.
Asset efficiency: Every process in a smart factory generates data, and through constant analysis of this data problems with the performance of assets can be detected and optimised. This enhances the efficiency of these assets.
Quality: The smart factory enables self-optimisation; so defects and other problematic trends can be predicted and detected sooner than in conventional setups. It can then make corrective adjustments to ensure that quality is not compromised. This enhances production and reduces the recall of defective products, as well as of rework and repairs.
Soni Saran Singh, executive director of NMTronics India Pvt Ltd, believes that the smart factory will become all important in the near future. He feels that the early adopters will be rewarded for their courage in changing to new technology, and those who avoid the change may become irrelevant and be left behind.
So let’s review a few recently launched software solutions that can be used in different electronics manufacturing equipment; these help to eliminate production errors while making the manufacturing process flexible, convenient and smart.
|Software: Fuji Smart Factory Solution|
|A Fuji Nexim provides an integrated solution for collectively managing the SMT process (which involves the three stages of ‘plan, do and see’). This solution provides information on materials to the workers in a factory, to enable accurate production plans, flexible data management, high operation rates and consistently high quality.
The management of the SMT process is an important feature of the Fuji Smart Factory Solution. It includes creating programmes and schedules to effectively manage the production flow (planning); performing changeovers, and checking and supplying parts (doing); and controlling quality by means of the statistical data generated (seeing). These three systems of production are pivotal for a smart and effective process flow.
With the Smart Factory Solution, instructions can be sent to the warehouse to check the availability of the required parts when these are needed, and guidance is given for optimal part supply based on the production line progress data. This ensures that the right material is picked in the right quantity, at the right time.
|Pulse is a complete system comprising connections, software and devices, and uses an open interface to connect to other machinery, including third party systems. It is possible to connect modules yourself and give machine suppliers clear instructions for the functions you want to integrate into Pulse. It is being used to solve the challenge of micro stops on the production line.
Typically, in most production systems, error messages only get generated five minutes after the production line comes to a standstill. Pulse is able to catch and reduce the number of micro stops. The ‘Alerts and Info’ app reports factors that may lead to line stops, before they occur. The operator accesses a clear to-do list on a smart watch or tablet, which prioritises tasks by the remaining response time. The operator can effectively avoid line stops and recognise imminent micro stops early on, so that action can be taken immediately. Pulse also offers faster response times for loading and unloading the line.
|Software: Heller Interface 4.0|
|Heller Interface 4.0 is a highly specific, dedicated server for Industry 4.0 connectivity. The key feature of this solution is an HTTP/HTTPS Web server process, written in C# and .NET that offers a generic interface to all tool operating environments. The host interfacing has features like central control, production reporting (number of boards processed, uptime, downtime, etc), energy management and control, along with traceability of the product.
The secondary element of Heller Interface 4.0 is a C# ‘class library’, also known as a ‘dynamic link library’ (DLL), that offers support for customer-specific tool requirements. There is only one Web server, and there are N class libraries, which are effectively plugins for each customer-specific environment. Class libraries or plugins can be readily customised and adapted to unique/specific, customer Industry 4.0 requirements.Contact details: Heller Industries, www.hellerindustries.com
India: TransTechnology India Pvt Ltd, www.trans-tec.com