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70 SMT007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2019 One of the downsides of a transition to this type of line is that it may not increase your production as much as you'd like, and it may even be seen as a temporary stopgap measure before an upgrade to a full inline solution. While a small prototyping line has advantages of its own, if you currently source your boards from an outside producer and are looking to bring your assembly in house, you may wish to consider a fully automated production line. Transitioning to a fully automated inline solu- tion is bound to vastly increase your produc- tion abilities. While this type of conversion is the ideal solution for businesses looking to bring their production from an outside source to in-house, it can also be the right upgrade for businesses transitioning from manual produc- tion or low-volume workcell lines, depending on their industry and unique situation. In the event that you're looking to step up to mid-range production, or you're attempting to bring mid-range PCB assembly in-house from an outside contractor, you should look toward inline automatic solutions. Something to keep in mind is if you're transitioning from hand assembly to completely automated produc- tion, it's important to ensure that you have the commensurate demand for your new produc- tion capabilities, as your overhead is about to get a significant upgrade as well. Before a fully inline conversion, you'll need to take into account your software, facility, and personnel requirements to keep that line up and running so that you can meet your produc- tion standards. Hurdles you could face include reworking the layout of your facility, dedicat- ing time to equipment training and evaluation, and increasing your staff to keep up with the increased complexity of your operation. Be sure you're fully aware of the specifications of the products you're looking to purchase, the specifications of the products you're building, and that your machines fall in line with your intended production capacity. There is some good news in terms of financ- ing, however. If you're thinking that a complete inline solution might work for you, but you're worried about the up-front cost or the overall expense of running it, there are a number of options that you can explore as long as you do your due diligence. For one, banks are more likely to approve loans and other lines of credit for purchasing a physical property. Also, many states offer financial opportunities that could help you defer your costs. In terms of machin- ery that will generate jobs for business and stimulate the economy, you even have more leverage when pursuing incentives from state and local governments that can offset your capital cost. Make sure to research the options available to you fully before deciding how you'd like to proceed with a line. The question of whether your facility could benefit from a conversion to a small-scale SMT workcell or fully automated SMT line is a heavy one to consider. It's important not to let the excitement of a possible increase in production and sales get the better of you when making the decision to automate. Keep in mind the increased overhead and the ongo- ing costs associated with new personnel that may offset your new production capabilities. Take the time to research the capabilities of any line you may be looking into as well as the personnel and training requirements to get the line started. Even with the initial investment of time and money, converting to an automated line could be the right choice to take your assembly capabilities to the next level. SMT007 Mike Fiorilla is a writer at Manncorp Inc. debuting his first column in this month's issue. Look forward to more insights from Mike in future magazines. Transitioning to a fully automated inline solution is bound to vastly increase your production abilities.

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