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34 SMT007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2023 One possible solution when you can't hire skilled technicians is to look at automation, particularly automation for soldering. Robotic soldering systems, however, have always shad- owed the hand soldering market. For many it was a "feature piece" for the obligatory factory tour just to demonstrate to potential custom- ers they are forward thinking. Now it's a reality to solve a true workforce shortage issue. But why use a robotic soldering system? A Robotic Solution Using a robotic soldering system can increase quality and produce a significantly higher pro- cess yield due to increased efficiencies of move- ment, higher precision for complex soldering locations, and higher repeatability of solder joints. ese can only be achieved with properly Feature Article by Ed Zamborsky THERMALTRONICS When I visit factories, I witness what's hap- pened to our workforce since the pandemic. Sometimes it looks like operator separation for social distancing, working extra shis to cover for lost or missing employees due to ill- ness, workers who now work from home, or those who have simply found working no lon- ger suits them. We saw this great shi starting in April 2021, a year into the pandemic. Unemployment jumped by 10.3 percentage points to 14.7%, with the pattern continuing into July when unemployment passed more than 4 million. More people were home and not working, but they continued their same buying habits. is presented a challenge for manufacturers who had fewer workers and increased demand. What could they do? Shopping for a Soldering Robot

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