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14 SMT Magazine • May 2016 have. So we still relied on operators to do mate- rial handling and some of the more basic func- tions—interface with the job tickets or travelers or whatever the customer may have to track the rework or the inspection process, and then auto- mate the areas where the operator has influence. We have been doing that for a number of years, now it is just a matter of taking the next step and trying to do some of the material handling using conveyors or robots and take a step up in elimi- nating some of the other operator interventions, such as manual alignments and placing the boards onto the system itself. So that is some- thing that you will see coming down the road from us as well as suppliers across the industry. Las Marias: What strategies can you think of that will help OEMs and EMS reduce handling errors in their process? Naugler: I think there are a couple different ap- proaches that are required actually on the equip- ment side for both rework and inspection. We have to make sure we put in some form of vali- dation to make sure that if an operator loads a printed circuit board, that it is what the system expects it to be. We can do that with anything from operator aids to what we call interlocks, in a way. It actually is a method of using bar codes or other methods to make sure that it is the correct product put on in the right orientation and so on. The other thing that we have is actually fairly new and kind of exciting for us on the material handling side. On the production lines when people do changeovers or introduce new kits to the floor, they are moving a lot of mate- rial, components and whatnot. Obviously, they have to make sure they get the right compo- nents to the pick-and-place machine. But the other factor that has been very difficult is to make sure that they have an adequate supply as well. The last thing you want is to set up a line and have the line go down because you thought you had 10,000 of a certain component, but you only had 2,000. We have a new product called the XQuik with AccuCount. It's an automated way using X-ray technology to look at the reels, and do a very accurate count of those reels. You can connect the XQuik with AccuCount directly to the MES system for inventory man- agement or we can have it print labels. In that regard we are taking the variability of manual counting that these components can add. In the manual counting, you can have an error in the actual count, you could have an error when the operator either puts a tag on it, or a lot of times they are manually entering this invento- ry update into the MES system, and they could transpose some numbers or use the wrong reel ID. So we are taking that aspect completely out of the operator's hands. Las Marias: So does it really make sense to take the operators out of the process? Naugler: Well, they won't be totally removed. Again, there is a reduction in the number of op- erators required, because it is much faster and much more efficient. But what it does is takes away the possibility for errors in this process. So, we use a barcode scanner to scan and identify a reel by its ID number, by its part number, how- ever the customer has it set up. Then in turn, we either print the label which gets applied right away, or in many cases we can talk directly to the inventory management system and make that update right then and there, and that eliminates a couple of possibilities for error in the counting. Las Marias: One of the issues that we just pub- lished is about increasing profits, and one of the factors is materials management. From your per- StRatEgiES to REducE Handling ERRoRS in YouR REwoRk PRocESS Figure 1: Most manufacturers still rely on opera- tors to do material handling and some of the more basic functions—such as interfacing with the job tickets or whatever the customer may have to track the rework or the inspection process.

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