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8 SMT Magazine • April 2016 by Stephen Las Marias i-coNNect007 Taking the Gremlins out of Your Process Every step in your assembly line—bareboard loading, solder paste printing and inspection, pick and place, reflow, optical inspection, test- ing, unloading the assembly, and panelization— is supposed to be designed to perform optimally for you to have an efficient, reliable, robust and reproducible process. However, and as isolated as they may seem, "gremlins" sometimes appear and mess up the results of a batch, keeping operators and line engineers figuring out what seems to be wrong in their process. In our recent survey, we asked our sub- scribers about their pain points when it comes to their processes, whether they need further automation for more control, and what they would like to know more about with regard to im- proving their process engi- neering. Among the greatest challenges cited were equipment issues, materials, soldering and re- work, changeovers, quality, and last but not least, management. When it comes to equipment, some of our respondents consider the never-ending intro- duction of new machines as a challenge—de- spite these machines being designed to stream- line the production. Perhaps one reason for this is the lack of time for thorough testing of a new process or machine prior to releasing to produc- tion. Respondents also said there is a lack of data acquisition systems with appropriate sen- sors for data logging over periods of time, and a need for systems to analyze big data to help their process innovation. For soldering and rework, the pain points include ensur- ing a robust soldering and rework process for assembly, E diTor's noTE 8 SMT Magazine • March 2016

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