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36 The PCB Magazine • May 2016 The answers depend on how large your lots are and how much mechanization you employ. Figure 1 shows some of the different stacking trays or bins and a few carts. Material concerns for damage starts at the very beginning with initial receiving and stor- age of the laminate and prepreg. Whether sheets or cut panels, the laminate has to be se- cured and stored in a way to keep it clean and free from stress (undue weight or warpage). There are 37 separate workcenters used in mak- ing a multilayer. Materials handling should be thought out for the entire process, and hopeful- ly the automation methodology will give you some insight into that thought process. How Does Automation Fit? Automation is a strategic tool for control- ling, managing, and directing a productive pro- cess by automatic means. It usually is comple- mented by product and technological innova- tions. The chief ingredients in automation are adequate know-how and common sense. Automation: a Working Definition In a working context, automation is more than just automatic machinery. Machinery im- plies mechanization, while automation also means the system information used to direct and control the people, materials, and machines, or systemization. Automation, then, as seen in Figure 2, is made up of two components, like a vector: the mechanization or material flow, and systemization, or information flow. Mechanization Classes Mechanization can be divided into six class- es, which indicate the level of sophistication of machines and machine interactions with hu- Figure 1: Typical trays or bins for transporting flat PCB panels (some w/locking covers) and two typical carts for transporting the trays. material HandlinG innovations: sHould you automate?

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