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38 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2020 systems that we quote today have some lev- el of automation. No more is it the operator pushing a cart over that has a crank on it so that they can lift the book up and then slide it into the press. The automation these days means you start at layup. The lay up itself is not automated yet, but you layup your book, and the layup operator is right there next to a computer. They push the book onto the con- veyor and input into the computer what this job is. From there, it's handled automatical- ly all the way through pressing and back to breakdown. At that point, an operator has to come and break down the book again. It's very automated past layup all the way to breakdown. Crowe: We had that concept several years ago at Advanced Circuits in Minnetonka and Ros- eville, where they layed up and kept track of each book. They would be in a storage rack of some sort, and we'd pick and place and get maximum utilization of each lamination sys- tem automatically because the recipes and the physical size of the book were the same. Dan Feinberg: Any change in the yields on things like raw materials—not only raw materials like laminate but also raw materials like drill bits? Any enhancement to that by automation? Palmer: You get more use out of a drill because you're not doing things like sending a drill bit out for repoint when it's not been fully uti- lized. You have two management systems and an automation system that keeps track of the number of hits on a tool. Instead of using an ID tool for three hits and thinking it's got to go out for repoint, it goes back into a magazine or into storage and is identified in a software sys- tem that says this tool can still be used. There's a lot of benefit to the tool life and extension of tool life because of that. Feinberg: Any numbers that you could use, or does it vary by the diameter of the drill? Palmer: It varies by diameter because of the dimensions. With ID tools, it seems to happen Palmer: Yes. You take them in and out of the loaders; that's all you do. You have to pin the panels because the panels have to be locked in place on each machine, but loading the loaders is all done up front. You do a little program- ming on your computer to tell the system what job is where, and then everything is automated from there. Matties: Including tool quality, tool condition, depth, and all the other parameters, all the in- spection is happening as the machines are op- erating. Palmer: Right. All these machines come with a tool chain. Unlike the old days where you had 10 tools across the front of the table, you have 2,200 tools resident on this machine in a chain, and you load up the 2,200 tool chain, however you want to do it. You can put as many tools of one size in there as you want, but it's based on the jobs that you're going to be drilling. That tool chain will typically have enough available tools to drill through the whole weekend without an operator coming in and changing those. Matties: What other areas of the manufactur- ing process would have an effect on profitabil- ity? We're talking about automating the drill room, but you're also in the lamination area. How else would a fabricator drive waste out and profit up? Palmer: There's a lot of automation coming in the lamination area for presses. It's not us at Burkle, but it seems like four out of five press You do a little programming on your computer to tell the system what job is where, and then everything is automated from there.

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