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34 SMT Magazine • August 2016 American Standard Circuits' Unique Offer- ings Contribute to Long-term Success Anaya Vardya, American Standard Circuits June 11, 2015 In 3D Inspection, can "Length = Height" Mean No Escapes? Kobi Ventura, ALeader Europe June 8, 2015 Reducing Cycle Times with Innovative Bonding Solutions Gudrun Weigel, Delo Industrial Adhesives SMT Magazine October 2015 Stencils: Why They Still Matter Eric Weissmann, Photo Stencil SMT Magazine August 2015 Process Improvements for Cycle Time Reduction Randall Williams, B&P Automation Inc. SMT Magazine October 2015 Valtronic Highlights Vital Com- ponents in Medical Electronics Manufacturing Jay Wimer, Valtronic USA SMT Magazine January 2016 What You Need to Know About Dispensing Garrett Wong, Nordson ASYMTEK January 19, 2016 Tremol SMD Talks EMS Trends and Industry Outlook Kiril Yanneff, Tremol SMD November 19, 2015 In our recent survey, we asked what is more important: automating a process or eliminat- ing process steps. Reducing a process step in an assembly line, which may result in a more efficient process—by taking the waste out of the value stream—is a key factor towards lean manu- facturing. Automation, meanwhile, takes the man- ual aspect out of the process and replaces it with a system that works 24/7. Of course, automation requires heavy investment; and a challenge here, as pointed out in one of the responses in the survey, is justifying the need for automation. Interestingly, the results are 50-50. Half of our respondents say automating a process is more im- portant, while the remaining 50% consider elimi- nating a process step a key strategy. One comment is that both are important—and that they go hand in hand. However, while automa- tion can be done in most process areas, eliminat- ing process steps is not possible in many areas. Also, in the case of smaller manufacturers, their facilities most of the time do not lend themselves well to either: some respondents say they have islands of automation rather than a real, end-to-end pro - cess automation. Reducing handling errors is one of the big- gest factors that require the need for automation. This is followed by faster throughput and lower labor costs. Another reason to automate, according to the survey, is to deliver more consistent quality results. Respondents highlighted some of the key pro- cesses that they consider important to automate: drilling and routing, installing fasteners, wet pro- cess, via fill, image transfer, lamination, and inspec- tion, particularly AOI. When it comes to eliminating process steps, the following are some of the key processes that respon- dents consider eliminating: plating, lamination, sol- der mask, repetitive measurements, and inventory management. Apart from eliminating steps in the process, respondents say reducing takt time is the next best thing. Eliminating process steps, however, requires sev- eral justifications. Survey respondents highlight the ROI, cost, timeframe, and testing considerations when it comes to reducing process steps. I-Connect Survey: Automation or Reducing Process Steps? The SMT007 Interview Index Source: I-Connect007 Survey

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