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MAY 2021 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 75 Our typical solution on reflow is an array of thermocouples down the tunnel mounted on the rails. Now you're putting a chamber and it's a stop/start process, so that creates some challenges. About a year and a half ago, we released an RPI for vacuum reflow ovens with Rehm, and now we have a couple of partners we've released that product with. We're able to capture the vacuum cycle time along with the reflow profile data; customers wanted to see that consistency and repeatability added to the typical profile data, and that ensures that their process is under control. is past year, it's just a more challeng- ing process because of that vacuum chamber. We've worked with SMT and come out with a solution on the dual lane, because as opposed to a typical RPI system on a dual lane oven and typical production where boards can go on either lane, with the vacuum chamber, the boards have to be aligned; it's about the timing and the way the boards move. When they go in the chamber, they have to go in at the same time, so there's a bit more logic and mechan- ical challenges around a vacuum reflow oven integrating the KIC RPI system, but a dual lane adds to that complexity. We were able to, with a common customer, come out with a dual lane RPI system for vacuum reflow with SMT. ey are a good partner to work with. Johnson: Great. What sort of ROI is the cus- tomer seeing? Moreau: For the most part, the key customers using our system for the vacuum reflow pro- cess are automotive and medical. ose are high reliability products that they're building and there's a high level of traceability require- ments that have to be met. To even get the contracts to build those products, they have to have a high level of traceability, they have to save the production data for a number of years. Johnson: Ah, so it's not so much ROI as it is accountability. Moreau: Yes, there is a certain value-add to have this real-time inspection, just like on a regular reflow process, but now you're trying to mitigate voiding, and because the customer requirement is you can have void sizes no larger than a certain amount on my products, how do you ensure that the temperature pro- file and the vacuum are done consistently? e value is added when it gives that data, which then can be handed off to their customer; it automates that. It goes to continuous improvement in auto- mation, rather than the customer saying, "Well, you're going to have to do more frequency of profiles; if you're going to do our product, then we want you to run a profile maybe twice a shi." Now they have to stop and run that pro- file through. Now that's your direct ROI say- ing, "I either have to run profiles pretty fre- quently and disrupt my production, or I can put this automated inspection system that gets me the traceability that my customer needs." Johnson: e reason to implement traceability is so that, if something goes terribly wrong in the field, you can search back through the data to find the root cause. Moreau: Correct, exactly. Johnson: Miles, this has been most informative. anks for taking the time to talk! Moreau: Excellent. Let's talk again soon. SMT007 Sponsored Links • Wave Process Inspection • Reflow Process Inspection • Connectivity Solutions Miles Moreau is general manager of KIC EMEA, Americas, Australia.

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