Electronic devices like smart phones continue to evolve into more compact and capable machines. We rely on our devices to help us manage even more daily tasks, critical transactions, and personal information than ever before. Consumer electronics manufacturers are therefore under tight scrutiny for their ability to produce technology of the utmost quality for seamless integration into our lives. This also means that, to stay competitive, manufacturers must be capable of producing higher-quality products at even higher production speeds - that is, do it better and do it faster than anyone else. How do these companies maintain their competitive edge?
The route taken by most of the major players in the consumer electronics market is the complete automation of critical processes in their assembly and manufacturing lines. Using automated ID and inspection, each piece in an electronics device from the chip to the chassis can be automatically tagged and tracked to ensure a complete and perfectly-functional final assembly within a controlled and efficient production environment. Barcode readers and machine vision equipment are key components within any automated system that relies on tracking coded parts to ensure traceability, enabling accurate defect inspection, and providing the " eyes" for robotic guidance operations.
If you'd like to see an example of how an automated system like this functions in electronics manufacturing, catch Microscan's recent webinar about the role of automation technology in consumer electronics manufacturing. ID and Inspection from Circuit to Smart Phone, presented by Senior Solutions Engineer Steven King from Microscan's Electronics team, takes a close look at the assembly of a smart phone and illustrates how barcode reading and machine vision inspection are employed by global manufacturers to ensure quality products and efficient processes at key points in production.
In the manufacture of a smart phone, one important use for automation is the identification of bare PCBs. New PCBs coming in from various suppliers must be populated with their own unique components for integration into unique devices. To keep everything organized, each PCB is coded with its own ID, using a barcode label or direct part mark (DPM) so the parts can be tracked from the time they are received to the time they are assembled. To maximize production throughput, these PCBs are also often populated in groups of what are referred to as " coupons" on larger panels.
The challenge with tracking PCB coupons is that the manufacturer must read multiple barcodes at once, and the orientations and configurations of the coupons on each panel are not usually consistent for each type of PCB or from each supplier. A manufacturer running different PCB panels through the same machine faces the challenge of how best to configure a barcode reading solution that is able to read all of the codes on each unique panel coming down the line without missing a single PCB.
During Microscan's webinar, presenter Steven King offers one particular automation solution that can be used to track all unique PCBs efficiently as they are received on panels. " It is very time-consuming to set up arrays of barcode readers for each new PCB configuration," states King. " Large area array cameras such as line scan cameras with special line scan lights are good alternatives to using multiple discrete cameras. With these systems, it is possible to scan the entire panel all at once in a single large image." Using a simple machine vision software setup, the manufacturer can then program their automation system to look for particular patterns of PCB coupons within the image to ensure that each PCB is tracked.
Want to learn more about automation solutions for consumer electronics? Check out the webinar ID and Inspection from Circuit to Smart Phone, now available on demand. We would also be happy to discuss automation with you. Contact us and let us identify the right solution to meet your unique requirements!
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