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66 SMT007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2018 Article by Freddie Chan KIC We have all learned that synergy means 2+2=5. This is an old cliché but in today's factories the output must far exceed the accu- mulative performance of each machine to stay competitive. No machine or process is an island—they must form ecosystems. The trend towards extreme automation and the smart factory leads to ever more connectivity and interdependence. Let's look at a few examples of the thermal process, which is close to my heart. This is argu- ably the least understood and the lowest prior- ity in most factories. Most factories will use a manual profiler to spot-check their thermal processes once monthly, weekly or daily. The thinking is that the thermal process appears to be fine and does not need much atten- tion. As electronics become ever smaller and more complex, the thermal process window keeps shrinking with a narrow margin of error. The reflow profiler's prediction software can identify the optimal oven set points for each assembly and reduce NPI time. More advanced optimization will enable near-instant oven changeover time as well as reduced electricity use. This combination of spot check and opti- mization impacts the entire line as well as the utility bill. Most engineers estimate that reflow contrib- utes less than five percent of all SMT defects. Yet, when a production line is shut down due to a defect issue, much (expensive) down- time is wasted trying to determine whether the reflow process was the culprit. This is because reflow is a black box process, and therefore, an unknown, as only spot checks have been applied to determine its status. When a yield problem occurs, the manual profiler is sitting on a shelf somewhere. Adding a continuous monitoring system provides insight into the thermal process always, instantly verifying whether the reflow process was the defect culprit. If the profile was out of spec, the system How the Factory Ecosystem Positively Drives Exponential Value

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