What makes a good SMT line?

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 An SMT machine is an expensive piece of equipment. Hence, buyers need to plan very strategically prior to making a purchase as there are many choices offered by various companies. This article covers the recent advances in SMT machines, and features all that the market currently offers. We have also talked to several manufacturers of SMT equipment, to know about their expectations from the Indian market

By Srabani Sen

Friday, November 22, 2013: Smaller, cheaper and faster are the features that the electronics manufacturing industry is looking for today. The Indian electronics industry is currently experiencing extremely rapid advances in technology, placing increasing demands on production machinery like surface mount technology (SMT) equipment to effectively increase manufacturing throughput and minimise defects. The demand for SMT machines is coming from emerging sectors like telecom, automotive, strategic electronics and healthcare. SMT machines must, therefore, be capable of placing components with a very high level of accuracy, to cope with an ever increasing variety and complexity of components, like smaller ball grid array (BGAs), tiny flip-chips (where the electrical connections are made directly to the chip’s silicon), etc, with the added need for high-quality standards.

The recent progress in LED technology and solidstate lighting has also led to a demand for SMT machines that can assemble LED components. In fact, the range of new and potential applications for LEDs in electronics is practically endless. The automated SMT assembly of LED components is possible with high-quality nozzles and feeders, which can effectively increase manufacturing throughput and minimise defects.

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Hence, the SMT industry is expanding its manufacturing capabilities to meet these demands. An SMT machine is an expensive piece of equipment. So buyers need to plan very strategically prior to making a purchase, as there are many choices offered by various companies. Let’s look at the new machines and advanced technologies available in the different SMT machine categories that will help electronics companies to manufacture highly complex products within shorter periods of time, increasing the overall production rates while decreasing production costs.

PICK AND PLACE MACHINES

The pick and place segment is in a state of constant development. Although these machines are now capable of mounting on various levels (2.5 D mounting: in cavities, stacking, package on package, etc), the next step is real 3D mounting, where components are required to be placed at an angle. That demands an extra dimension on top of the existing X, Y, Z and R movements. While 3D mounting still needs special actions (while placement still uses X, Y, Z and R movements, the board also rotates), it won’t be long before standard SMT equipment will offer 3D mounting.

Suresh Nair, director, Leaptech Corporation
Suresh Nair, director, Leaptech Corporation

According to Suresh Nair, director, Leaptech Corporation, the latest trend is to offer hybrid placement capabilities—the pick and place machines can be added with dispensing heads for solder paste or glue. The applications vary from normal glue doting for heavier components before placement to high-end applications like package-on-package and bare die placement, where flux application is also part of the placement machine’s features.

“Even for LED board assembly for LED tubelights, which have long PCBs of up to 1200 mm, printing of solder paste becomes critical, as there are not many printers in the market that can handle such large PCBs. So solder paste dispensing by pick and place machines is handy for such applications,” says Suresh Nair.

Laser board warpage detection is another new technology being offered by pick and place machine manufacturers. Machines with this feature can detect any warping in the PCB and adjust the placement program accordingly. This feature also doubles up as a board stopper, in which case the PCB positioning for placement is accurately done by the laser source and no more mechanical stoppers are required.

Some recent launches in pick & place machines
  • EM780LED by Evest Corporation, Taiwan
  • iFlex by Assembleon, The Netherlands
  • My-100-HXe by Mydata, Sweden
  • Paraquda by Essemtec AG, Switzerland
  • LED660V by Termway GmbH, Germany
  • FVX Benchtop by Manncorp, USA
  • MP-200 by Dima Group BV, The Netherlands
  • Quadra DVC EVO by TWS Automation, Italy

Quality nozzles and feeders are at the core of the pick and place process. If the pick and place machine fails to pick parts consistently or hold on to the components while transporting from the feeder to the PCB, defects will occur. So proper feeder and nozzle selection is critical.

Many SMT manufacturers are also creating customed pick and place trays to allow for more accurate picking and transport processes. These machines have customised nozzles that enable LEDs to be picked, vision centred and placed at a high speed.

Irene Lim, product marketing director, ASM Pacific Technology
Irene Lim, product marketing director, ASM Pacific Technology

According to Irene Lim, product marketing director, ASM Pacific Technology Ltd, miniaturised components result in the need for pick and place equipment to be able to handle smaller components such as 01005 packaging. While component suppliers are working on smaller components, substrate suppliers likewise are exploring embedding technologies. This pushes the boundary of conventional placement equipment to be able to support better placement accuracy below 25 um. “With the need for more and more tailored products to suit different market segments, electronics manufacturers struggle with smaller and smaller batch sizes producing varying products with certain degree of commonalities. Such high mix production is no longer limited to high-cost manufacturing facilities but rather becoming more prevalent in lots of factories worldwide. To efficiently manage this kind of production, flexible pick and place machines coupled with good software control is strongly in demand. ASM Assembly Systems is no stranger to this arena as its flagship product—SIPLACE SX was precisely developed for such flexible production environment supporting many customers around the world,” explains Irene Lim.

However, not too many companies launched pick and place machines—either high volume or low and mid volume—in the last two years. Some manufacturers have just upgraded their existing machines to meet the demand from the market.

Fuji Machine Manufacturing Co Ltd launched the AIMEX IIS in November 2012. The AIMEX IIS is an all-in-one placement platform and a high speed machine, with capacity going up to 50,000 CPH. This optimum machine for high-mix low-volume production and variable-mix variable-volume production inherits concepts from the popular AIMEX, but with increased flexibility and expandability.

Samsung launched its EXCEN series in April 2012. These are high speed modular mounters that apply a high speed rotary head equipped with 16 nozzles. It has the world’s highest speed of 120,000 CPH among mounters of the same class, as well as the world’s highest area productivity.

On the other hand, Mirae Corporation upgraded its Mx400 series in July 2012, which has a dual gantry structure based on 2 x 6 axes heads. Its economical compact size ensures maximum productivity per unit area. It has an optional dual-lane conveyor, which enables two PCBs to work at high speeds simultaneously.

Juki Corporation has also upgraded the capabilities of the FX 3 to launch the FX 3R in January 2012. The FX 3R’s four independent beams, each with a six-nozzle-multi-laser head, alternately perform component picking and placement at two stations. A total of 24 components can be picked and centred simultaneously using high resolution, on-the-fly laser centring for high speed placement.

Among low and mid volume machines, Autotronik SMT launched its LD series of pick and place machines in February 2013, which is primarily suitable for LED assembly with a speed of 15,000 CPH. These machines can handle PCB lengths of 1200 mm in a single step. They can handle almost all types of LEDs up to a size of 8 mm×8 mm.

PRINTER SYSTEMS

Shailendra Mathur, general manager-India, ASYS
Shailendra Mathur, general manager-India, ASYS

SMT machinery requires solder paste to be screen printed onto the PCB prior to placing the surface mount components. The quality of a PCB depends on the quality of the initial solder paste deposits. Today, the smaller lead pitches and components make it more difficult to achieve accurate, unflawed and perfectly printed PCBs. This requires a high quality, precise printer that can handle small, mid-sized and high volumes.

According to Shailendra Mathur, general manager-India, ASYS, with a competitive market, manufacturers are looking for high productivity, yield and efficiency. In manufacturing, paste printing process is critical to address these deliverables. For this wish list, new printers will possibly take inputs from process innovations like closed- loop SPIs, best cleaning frequencies, fast substrate handling, etc. Additionally, component pitch size of < 0.3 mm will require higher accuracy machines print fast and accurately. Electronics today is high mix, high density, varied substrate oriented and so high accuracy prints for both fine and standard deposits adjacent on the same real estate, will be what future printers will need to address. Printers in future will have special squeegee technologies, different process stencils and work on high quality paste. Also printers will most likely accommodate a wide variety of substrates, have smartphone like MMIs, integrated paste and PCB surface analysis, intelligent response to substrate and printing variations clearly directed at highest productivity, yield ad efficiency, reducing operator dependence.

Some recent launches in printer systems
  • HP-520S by SJ InnoTech, South Korea
  • G5 /GL by GKG, China
  • HX-3040 by Hexi Electronic Equipment Co Ltd, China
  • Fino by Essemtec AG, Switzerland
  • MPM125 by Speedline Technologies Inc, USA
  • Versaprint S1 and Versaprint P1 by Ersa GmbH, Germany
  • SP1 series by Samsung, South Korea
  • SAP 26 by EMS Technologies Pvt Ltd, Pune, India

Today, printer systems have become very advanced. For example, Hitachi high-speed, high performance solder paste printers and Koh Young Technology’s 3D solder paste inspection (SPI) systems can talk to one another via Koh Young’s closed loop interface process control software. The process control software brings the SPI system and the printer together via a closed-loop communications link to not only identify defects in solder paste printing, but correct them with the printer. These machines now feature advanced technologies.

ASYS launched CONEXIO in November 2012, which is a future-oriented line concept for single and multiple lane applications. It allows individual process modules to be replaced or added to the line as required. Demand fluctuations or NPI can be addressed in the shortest possible time with CONEXIO.

Yamaha launched the YSP20 in June 2012, which is a dual-lane, dual-stencil printer with five-micron alignment repeatability. It has a unique ‘3S’ head (swing, single and squeegee) that can dynamically change the ‘attack’ angle as opposed to a fixed ‘w’ type conventional squeegee system.

In a nutshell, to achieve good printing results, a combination of the right paste material, the right equipment and the right process are necessary. Manufacturers must control the process and equipment variables to achieve good print quality.

REFLOW OVENS

Reflow ovens are used for reflow soldering of the surface mounted electronic components onto PCBs. These are of two types—infrared and convection ovens. These ovens contain multiple zones, each of which can be individually controlled for temperature. Generally, there are several heating zones and one or more cooling zones. The PCB moves through the oven on a conveyor belt, and is subjected to a controlled time-temperature profile. Reflow ovens are now available with advanced features.

In early 2012, Kurtz ERSA launched the Hotflow 3e series of ovens, which are versatile in nature. These can be offered as single track, dual-track or three-track variants, making it possible to solder three products at the same time, resulting in the highest throughput.

Some recent launches in reflow ovens
  • Dynamo by BTU International, USA
  • OmniMax 7 by Speedline Technologies, USA
  • EVO Ovens by TWS Automation, Italy
  • CR-820 and CR-1030 by VIT-DC Automation Equipments (Shenzhen) Co Ltd, China
  • Konark 145 and Konark 257 by EMS Technologies Pvt Ltd, India
  • Mark 5 series (models 1826, 1936, 2043 and 2156) by Heller, USA
  • CR5000F by Manncorp, USA

In April 2013, Rehm Thermal System launched the VX series, which offers a convection reflow soldering system that is distinguished by high levels of flexibility and productivity. This system comes with the strongest heating and cooling power in the industry, with robust transport systems. It is a high-volume reflow soldering oven for all SMT components.

Indian manufacturer EMS Technologies Pvt Ltd launched the Konark 145 in April 2012, and upgraded the Konark 257 as well. The Konark range of reflow ovens are the only Indian products with high-end features matching imported machines. These are cost-effective alternatives to imported machines, and are ideally suited for high-volume manufacturing. Konark 145 is a five-zone hot air convection reflow oven, which uses five top and five bottom hot air convection heating zones.

INSPECTION SYSTEMS

Automated optical inspection (AOI) systems and solder paste inspection (SPI) systems are today become essential tools in PCB assembly lines, particularly in industries where tough quality and safety standards apply. It is not just the increasing board density and the miniaturisation of components that are driving this trend—the use of AOI and SPI systems in the overall process control and test strategy have proved to be an unmatched return on investment. Over the years, makers of these machines have technically enhanced the features in order to meet all the challenges of today’s complex PCB assembly.

Some recent launches in inspection systems
  • 4000Plus bond tester pad cratering inspection system by Nordson DAGE, UK
  • MS-15 3D Inline 3D SPI system by Mirtec, Korea
  • VT-RNS2 by Omron Co Ltd, Japan
  • ALD 707 i3D Inline AOI by Aleader, Israel
  • Zenith 3D AOI by Koh Young, Korea
  • 5K Spectro by Vi Technology, France
  • Jade FP by Nordson DAGE, UK
  • SHS 60 by Samsung, South Korea
  • OptiCon AdvancedLine by Goepel Electronic GmbH, Germany
  • BF-Planet-XII by SAKI Corporation, Japan
  • BF-Comet18 by SAKI Corporation, Japan
  • MV-9 series by Mirtec, Korea
  • S3088 basic by Viscom AG, Germany

In this category, CyberOptics Corporation launched the SE600 in July 2013, which is an advanced, high performance SPI system. It brings together accuracy and world-class usability on a single platform, making it the ideal inspection solution for automotive, medical, military and other niche markets.

ASYS has also launched the Insignum 3000 scanner in November 2012, which is a reading system consisting of a stepper motor driven X/Y-axle-system with a scanner or camera. The product is transported on the conveyor and up against a stopper.

SOLDERING SYSTEMS

SMT soldering machines constitute a crucial part of the manufacturing process as they help in evaluating the consistency in the soldering quality of a product. SMT soldering machines cover an array of equipment including SMT reflow soldering (reflow ovens), SMT/BGA soldering stations (used for single component placement/removal and also known as SMT/BGA rework stations), and SMT discrete soldering equipment like soldering stations, hot tweezers, infra-red guns (predominantly used in low volume/prototype development), etc.

In this category, Speedline launched Omni ES series in May 2013, which is a combination of innovation and industry proven technology, providing an efficient and reliable solution for SMT soldering applications. Made to deliver high performance, it is also an easy to use, reliable and efficient reflow system.

Some recent launches in soldering systems
  • Vectra ES2 by Speedline Technologies. USA
  • HM-350/450 by Shenzhen HB Automation Equipment Co., China
  • CUBE 460 by Inertec GmbH, Germany
  • IS–B–335S by InterSelect GmbH, Germany
  • IR 3000 by PACE Worldwide, USA
  • PDR IR-E3 BGA by PDR, UK
  • SRF70i series by Samsung, Korea
  • QP-S Media by SMT Maschinen and Vertriebs GmbH & Co., Germany
  • Omni ES series by Speedline, USA

In April 2013, Inertec GmbH launched CUBE 460, which is a fully automated system, and can be customised as per desired soldering angle with an optional camera for online programming and process verification.

By using SMT soldering machines, manufacturers can improve thermal conductivity and lower assembly costs, due to lower labour involvement and the use of less solder paste. Today, these machines are more technologically advanced and use the latest soldering technology, which can reliably solder surface mount components, particularly those with very fine pitch leads. In BGA, the pads are under the device and are not visible. Today, BGA solder techniques are tried and tested and have been proved to be very reliable. These machines are now available with advanced technologies.

DISPENSING SYSTEMS

The adhesive dispensing process transfers adhesives onto the PCB solder mask in a position suitable for holding the components until the PCB is wave soldered.

The equipment used for adhesive dispensing can be inline or offline. Choosing an inline or offline system depends on the particular job at hand. If the process is for small production batches, an offline dispenser unit will be adequate, but for high output placement lines, where the product cycle time is short, an inline system is necessary. For both inline and offline systems, three different dispensing methods are used—time/pressure, auger pump and piston pump.

Some recent launches in dispensing systems
  • PVA900 by Precision Valve Automation, USA
  • DR-060/070 by DIMA Group BV, the Netherlands
  • Scorpion by Essemtec AG, Switzerland
  • PVA6000 by Precision Valve Automation, USA
  • SCS Precision Coat by Specialty Coating Systems, USA
  • HC-200 by DIMA Group BV, the Netherlands

In June 2012, Precision Valve Automation (PVA) launched a UV2000 ultraviolet light curing oven, which uses UV lamps to initiate a fast ultraviolet light polymerisation (curing) of adhesives and coatings in an efficient inline process. Various UV beam widths are available to accommodate substrate dimensions. This model of oven is ideal when speed is of the essence, conveyor profiling is important, upgrading is a possibility, and when easy access is critical.

In November 2011, Speedline Technologies launched Camalot FX-D, which is still in demand as it is a cost-effective dispensing system that features a unique ‘plug and play’ design.

REWORK STATIONS

Defective surface mount components can be repaired by using soldering irons or a non-contact rework system. A rework system is a better choice because SMD work with a soldering iron requires considerable skill, and in many cases is not feasible at all. There are essentially two non-contact soldering/desoldering methods—infrared soldering and soldering with hot gas. With infrared soldering, the energy for heating up the solder joint is transmitted by long or short wave infrared electromagnetic radiation. With the current technological advancements, one system unifies all essential process steps, offering manual to automatic soldering, de-soldering and placement, requiring only little action from the operator.

Some recent launches in rework stations
  • BR790-HD by Manncorp, USA
  • HR 600 by Wertheim, Germany
  • Scorpion Rework System by OK International, USA
  • IR 3000 by PACE Incorporated, USA
  • IR-C1 by PDR, UK

OK International launched the Metcal MX-5200 soldering, desoldering and rework series, which offers increased productivity and process control, and is now available with dual simultaneous use ports. The MX-5200 now features a dual simultaneous use option, which means that two hand pieces can work from one power supply at the same time. The dynamic option enables the two hand pieces to share an 80 watt power output, based on demand, adding even more application flexibility and speed.

In January 2012, PDR launched the IR-E3 SMT/BGA rework system, using PDR’s patented ‘Focused IR’ technology. It has been specifically designed to cope with the challenges of repairing PCB assemblies. The system is tool-free, gas-free, modular and upgradeable, all of which produces 100 per cent yield BGA rework.

 “Asys is coming up with products designed to suit Indian market”

Parvindar Singh, MD , ASYS Group Asia Pte Ltd
Parvindar Singh, MD , ASYS Group Asia Pte Ltd

Parvindar Singh, MD , ASYS Group Asia Pte Ltd

ASYS is a global technology company and a leading manufacturer of handling, process and other customised equipment for the electronics and solar industries

EB: In the current Indian scenario, how do you see the SMT market being transformed?

Due to the rupee’s drastic depreciation, Indians are finding it difficult to invest because the capital equipment comes from overseas. They are also finding it difficult to get loans from bank as banks in India are reluctant to hold equipment as collateral. I think the government should help by announcing incentives and tax benefits to encourage the industry, both the manufacturers as well the financial institutions. In most countries, the government acts to allay the fear of the financial institution by providing government credits to banks for this type of financing. The SMT industry needs government push on all levels of the business in order to grow.

EB: How has the rupee’s depreciation affected your business with respect to the Indian market?

Our business was not impacted until the middle of this year because customers plan their orders in advance and keep the required currency with them. But now, in the second half of the year, we are starting to see a slowdown and, of course, this will have an impact on our sales as well as sales of our competitors, too. The government needs to do much more than announcing zero duty on capital equipment, for example a shorter depreciation period, so the returns can counteract the depreciation of the rupee versus other currencies namely the dollar and Euro.

EB: What is your short term strategy to cope with this challenge?

We are coming up with products that are specially designed to reduce manufacturing cost of our equipment to suit the Indian market, in order to have a competitive advantage. We have also set up our own sales and service office in India in 2011 in order to provide real-time services to our customers. That is an edge over our competitors. Since we are directly present in India, in addition to having agents and distributors, our customers feel very secure. They are assured of the fact that whenever they need our assistance or support, they’ll get it not only via our agents but also this is backed up by the manufacturer as well. There is no risk like agents going out of business or no longer representing the manufacturer, having to find out who the new agent is, etc.

EB: Have you witnessed a rise in your sales figures in India over the last two years?

Yes, by 20-25 per cent, since we opened an office in India. But this year we are beginning to face competition from low-quality, low-cost equipment manufacturers from China who make machines by copying designs of established manufacturers. They are able to manufacture at lower cost as they have almost no cost in R&D, as they reverse engineer machines of companies like ours. This is affecting our pricing levels, as most Indian SMT manufacturers being small in size and looking at a shorter horizon and, wanting to minimise their investment cost, are willing to buy these machines. The manufacturers do not realise that they should not compromise quality at the cost of price.

EB: Since India is a price-sensitive market, are your products differently priced here?

Yes, we sell our products in India at a price suited to the Indian expectation. The main pricing strategy is to increase the market size of the industry in India and make the Indian SMT manufacturers competitive against their overseas competitors. This will ultimately increase our customer base as well as that of our competitors, and besides, the industry is still at a nascent stage in India. So, we provide machines according to the specifications and features needed by the Indian customers, to keep the cost affordable for the customers.

EB: Which sector do you see demand coming from this year?

At the moment, most of the demand is coming from the EMS industry.

EB: What about the telecom and automotive industries?

Some of the big telecom companies like Nokia and Motorola have fizzled out because it is cheaper for them to produce in China and bring it here than to manufacture in India. The supporting industry in India is still lacking. The automotive sector has still not picked up significantly in India as only a handful of companies are making products for that segment.

EB: What technological edge do you have over your competitors?

We have our own innovative IPs and designs that gives us an edge over our competition. But what is more important is to serve the customers with quality, reliable products and top quality service up to their expectation.

 “Horizon iX platform is a well suited product for the Indian market
Leslie Chang, GM, DEK
Leslie Chang, GM, DEK

Leslie Chang, GM, DEK

DEK is an industry-leading provider of screen printing equipment and processes for a wide range of customers worldwide

EB: Did the fall in rupee affect your business in India?

At the start of the year, we experienced the impact of the currency depreciation where some of our customers held back their investment plan. However, those customers had started to invest in capital equipment in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. The automotive industry as well as the mobile communications sector remain the key segment of drivers for our business.

EB: Which DEK machines are popular in India?

The DEK Horizon iX platform is popular in India. It offers the freedom to configure the screen printer exactly the way one needs. You can start with an impressive array of features as standard, and then choose from an extensive range of options to optimise performance and value. This is one of the lowest cost of ownership platform. We not only enable effective SMT production but also drive competitive success for our customers through high yields, extended equipment utilisation and productivity improvement.

EB: How is the Indian market different from other Asian markets for SMT machines?

Although we see high volume manufacturing in China, outside China we do see high volume manufacturing emerging in Vietnam and India. In terms of products, communications and automotive are key drivers for our products in India. Indian market has the potential to grow significantly, particularly in the automotive industry. Hence, we continue to invest in India. However, the market needs more awareness about SMT machines. The SMT market in India is very sensitive to service and prices. Customers want good service at a lower price. So we address these challenges first.

EB: How important is the Indian market for DEK?

DEK is very focused in India, and it has the largest market share in India. Besides our channel partners, we also have our DEK direct customer support group (CSG) engineers based in India to provide support to our channel partners as well as our key account customers. By being present in India, we want to assure our customers that we are here to support them as we continue to strive for world-class after sales service excellence.

EB: Are your products priced differently for India, since it is a cost-sensitive country?

We believe that Horizon iX platform is a well suited product for the Indian market. Our products help customers to reduce manufacturing costs and improve productivity. Our innovative vector guard high tension stencil is another example of innovation from DEK that help our customers reduced their overall cost of ownership by improved yield and improved productivity.

EB: Which segments are growing for SMT in India?

The automotive and communication industry remained to be the drivers for our electronics assembly business in India. With the recent announcement on the incentives initiative by the government, we expect to see growth activities in the other segments particularly the consumer segment (eg. manufacturing of the set-top box).

Our 3D AOI technology justifies its cost

Thorsten Niermeyer, senior technologist, Koh Young
Thorsten Niermeyer, senior technologist, Koh Young

Thorsten Niermeyer, senior technologist, Koh Young

Koh Young is a leading provider of solder paste inspection (SPI) and automated optical inspection (AOI) systems to the global circuit board assembly and semiconductor markets

EB: Have you launched any new product recently?

We have launched the Zenith 3D AOI system, which has the ability to measure the true profilometry or height of the entire assembled PCB, including components and solder joints. This capability is based on the patented multi-frequency Moiré technology. This high-end machine will meet the requirements of the mobile, automotive, telecom, defence and medical electronics sectors.

EB: What makes this machine unique?

With its 3D technology, Zenith detects not only various kinds of solder joint defects based on their true profilometry, but also simple defects such as tomb stoning; and it has no problems measuring dark components, lifted leads or mislocated devices. Programming it is simple and requires just 30 minutes, because the new system automatically extracts all the necessary information about the components to be inspected by the automatic package library builder.

EB: Since AOI machines are very costly and India is a price-sensitive market, what challenges do you face here?

Our technology can overcome the price issues. The 3D technology caters to a different set of customers who are looking for a high-end machine. This is not only an AOI machine but an automated optical measurement machine. A 3D AOI machine does not require manpower for programming, tuning, etc, as it is a measurement machine. So, it saves on manpower costs, provides accurate results and justifies its cost.

EB: Has your market share increased in India over the last few years?

Yes, we have seen an increase in our market share in India. However, this year has been slow due to the market conditions and the slowing down of the automotive sector, which is our main focus.

EB: How important is the Indian market for you?

India is a maturing market. We still need to educate the customers here about the latest technologies. The market has a lot of potential to grow, and we invest in emerging markets in order to establish ourselves. Hence, we are willing to make investments in India.

We’re now making rapid strides into high volume segment with YSM40

Arimoto Ichiro, senior supervisor, Yamha Motor Co Ltd

Yamaha Motor Intelligent Machinery (IM) is the SMT division of Yamaha Motor Co Ltd, which sells and supports solutions for the SMT market—from screen printing and dispensing to placement and AOI machines

EB: What are the new machines you have launched recently?

Responding to the increasing demand for high-end, flexible and integrated solutions, we have two machines to offer—3D AOI and YSD high-speed dispensing system. These machines will help to raise efficiency and productivity. The YSi-X, the 2D/3D X-ray is a multifunction 3D X-ray hybrid inspection system capable of complete in-line inspection of all facets of PCBs.

EB: Which machines sell the most in India? And have you seen an increase in sales for your machines in India?

Our surface mounters, particularly YS12E and YS24, sell the most. This year has been better for us and we expect the trend to continue. Also, some automotive companies are planning to invest in India, so we have a chance to get more customers in the country.

EB: Are your machines priced differently for India?

Yes. They are sold at a comparatively lower price.

EB: What are the factors that drive the sales of SMT inspection equipment?

Advanced product technology, responsiveness, reliability and quality of inspection are major drivers in the SMT inspection equipment market. High performance devices in the telecom, automotive, and consumer electronics space are expected to further drive demand for SMT inspection.

EB: What are your strategies for next year?

We would like to have more EMS companies as our customers, since this segment is growing in India.

EB: Technologically, how do you maintain an edge over your competitors?

The SMT equipment market is currently in the process of maturing. We focus on high durability and quality service, besides high-quality machines. Traditionally, our strength has been machines for mid volume, high mix. However, we are now making rapid strides into high volume segment as well with the help of our new platform YSM40.

Our India-made products are doing good business

L Sampath, director, EMST Marketing Pvt Ltd
L Sampath, director, EMST Marketing Pvt Ltd

L Sampath, director, EMST Marketing Pvt Ltd

A part of the Electronica Group, EMST Marketing Pvt Ltd focuses on the sale and service of PCB assembly and wire processing equipment, while its sister unit, EMST Technologies, is into manufacturing

EB: Has your business been affected because of the rupee’s devaluation?

Yes, we are experiencing a slow down in our sales. Orders are getting postponed and foreign remittances are on hold, waiting for exchange rate to improve, manufacturers have stopped placing orders and payments are also being delayed.

EB: What strategy are you following to sustain your business through the current market situation?

Electronica as a group is known for manufacturing and trading. We have a strong manufacturing base so we will continue with it, as well as our trading operations. We are also keen on introducing new technologies into India. That is the reason we started manufacturing reflow ovens in India. With rupee weakening, imports will be more expensive and we expect sales of locally manufactured products to improve.

EB: What is the demand like for India-made machines compared to those manufactured abroad?

There has been very good support from the Indian customers. Hardly any wave soldering machines are imported into India. Some of our printer models are also doing very good business. Since we offer high-quality machines, customers appreciate them.

EB: From which sector is there more demand for your machines?

Lighting and industrial product sectors are good markets for us.

EB: What new machines has EMST brought out this year?

We have introduced a new range of automated optical inspection (AOI) and automated X-ray inspection (AXI) systems into the Indian market. These are from Goepel, Germany, and are coming from the ‘City of Optics’, Jena, which is very famous for its lenses and other optical products. Both these systems are high-end in-line machines with exclusive features to cover both SMT and through-hole inspection. Goepel has recently added EMST as its new AOI/AXI systems distributor in India.

GE’s speed/scan AtlineCT is a high-speed computed tomography system”

Ralf Lehmann, area sales manager, GE Measurement & Control
Ralf Lehmann, area sales manager, GE Measurement & Control

Ralf Lehmann, area sales manager, GE Measurement & Control

GE Measurement & Control offers inspection solutions and covers a broad range of industries and applications, including non-destructive testing, sensing, asset condition monitoring, controls and instrumentation

EB: Has your business been affected because of the devaluation of the rupee?

Yes, to some extent, as the customers have put their buying decisions on hold since the machines are now expensive. So we are also affected. We cannot lower the cost of the machines because the manufacturing cost remains high.

EB: How do you maintain an edge over your competitors with respect to technology?

GE brings new technologies into its machines. This makes us one of the top companies for SMT. For example, GE’s speed/scan AtlineCT is a new high-speed computed tomography system for 3D mass production process control. With this new industrial speed/scan CT system, this proven technology is available for high speed at-line process control. The proven, gantry-based computed tomography offers > 200 x faster inspection compared to conventional industrial CT systems, thus substituting other NDT inspection and metrology processes.

EB: Has the demand for your equipment increased in the last two years in India?

For the last two years, the electronics market in India has been more or less stagnant, given the number of machines we have been able to sell. But since the Indian market has a huge potential and is growing, it is an important market for us.

EB: What is your strategy to penetrate the Indian market?

We build a strong relationship with our customers. We share good information about our products and build awareness among customers in order to penetrate the market.

EB: How different is India compared to the other global markets?

Decision making for buying machines takes time in India. Customers also take a lot of time to accept the prices.

 

Check points for investment in SMT equipment

By YB Kang, MD, YB Techsolution Pvt Ltd

Screen printers

  • Available frame sizes: Free size response is available—Min: 650 mm×550 mm and Max: 736 mm×736 mm

  • PCB size limit: Check the lower and higher limits for PCB sizes

  • Quality: Repeat print quality (metal mask defective ratio)—penetration of solder paste (fine pitch 0.4 pitch below, BGA 3Ø below)

  • Printing cycle time: The inspection time for two methods—one includes time with 2D inspection and another excludes time with 2D inspection

Mounters

  • Expected production capacity from applied product: Since SMT equipment have different mounting methods depending on each brand and its characteristics, the suitable use of equipment depends on the type of PCB being manufactured by each company

  • Accuracy and quality:Mounting precision— this depends on how precisely cameras (vision) recognise the parts, and how accurately the motor of the X and Y axes calculates the moving distance per pulse

  • PCB size limit:The lower and higher limit for PCB sizes

  • Part recognition (vision) method:

    • Front light: Recognition is influenced by the amount of light—it is usually accurate and precise, but is easily affected by the external environment and the changes set by dissimilar parts

    • Back light: Recognition of a part’s shadow—it can recognise subtle changes caused by the shadow of a part but the precision is less

    • Laser: Used to recognise parts that require high precision. It is very sensitive to subtle changes in the components.

Productivity and the loss of material are directly linked to the responsiveness of equipment and the precision in loading. The existing standard shapes of parts used in electronics are rapidly changing. Mounter manufacturers develop and upgrade vision software for clients in response to the new parts being developed. It is important to check if such support is available.

Reflow

  • Difference between set-up and actual temperature: If there is a big gap between the set-up temperature and measured temperature in the equipment, there will be temperature loss in the reflow; thus, it is most important to maintain a stable temperature

  • Composition of temperature control zone: To ensure the possibility of production with lead-free solders, the most appropriate number of zones would be seven or eight, with separate zones for cooling

  • Start-up time: After a vacation or a day off, when equipment is powered on from the ‘off’ position, it takes time for the reflow oven to reach the set temperature in different zones, for stable production to begin. The time taken to begin production primarily depends on the start-up time of the reflow oven

  • Heating methods: It is important to benchmark and check equipment as there are unique and individually-designed types of equipment by different reflow oven manufacturers. A detailed review of equipment is required

Use common spare parts which are easily available in the market. When dealers do not have the parts at the time the equipment breaks down, a long wait or the expiration of the warranty period can lead to higher costs for replacement parts.

Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine

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