Electronics Assembly Knowledge, Vision & Wisdom
Improved Efficiency Using Root Cause Analysis
Improved Efficiency Using Root Cause Analysis
A PCB fails final test. Was it the solder paste, printer, assembly machine, reflow oven? This paper will discuss tools available to assist in root cause failure analysis.
Analysis Lab

Authored By:
Gerry Padnos
Juki Automation Systems, Inc.
Morrisville, NC USA
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Transcript
A PCB fails final test. Why? Was it the solder paste? The screen printer? The PCB assembly machine? The reflow oven or none of the above?

Unplanned downtime is a costly fact of life. In order to minimize the length of downtime, it's necessary to have clear details on exactly what the source of the problem is, not just the symptoms.

This information allows operators and maintenance personnel to take corrective steps more quickly and minimize downtime. There are many machines and materials involved in the assembly of a complete PCB; screen printers, conveyors, pick and place systems, reflow ovens, automated optical inspection, solder paste and components.

Some of this equipment has the ability to check its results before, during or immediately after it has completed its task. Until now there have been few real-time tools for pick and place systems.

In many cases, high speed movement on these machines makes it extremely hard to "see" exactly what is happening. Components misplaced by the assembly system could be caused by many different factors.

Without tools to provide a clear view of very high speed placement, it is difficult to identify the cause of misplacement.

How much easier would this task be if operators and maintenance personnel were armed with detailed information on the nozzles, feeders, and actual images of the picking and placing of parts on the PCB? This paper covers tools available for the placement machine to assist in root cause failure analysis.
Summary
A PCB fails final test. Why? Was it the solder paste? The screen printer? The PCB assembly machine? The reflow oven or none of the above?

Unplanned downtime is a costly fact of life. In order to minimize the length of downtime it is necessary to have clear details on exactly what the source of the problem is, not just the symptoms. This information allows operators and maintenance personnel to go directly to take corrective steps more quickly and minimize downtime.

There are many machines and materials involved in the assembly of a complete PCB; screen printers, conveyors, pick and place systems, reflow ovens, Automated Optical Inspection (AOI), solder paste and components. Some of this equipment has the ability to check its results before, during or immediately after it has completed its task.

Until now there have been few real-time tools for the pick and place systems. In many cases, high speed movement on these machines makes it extremely hard to "see" exactly what is happening. Components misplaced by the assembly system could be caused by many different factors. Without tools to provide a clear view of very high speed placement, it is difficult to the cause of misplacement.

How much easier would this task be if operators and maintenance personnel are armed with detailed information on the nozzles, feeders, and actual images of the picking and placing of parts on the PCB?

This paper will discuss tools available for the placement machine to assist in root cause failure analysis (RCFA).
Conclusions
New tools are invented constantly to "make life easier". In a production environment, this often translates to "more efficient". A compound miter saw makes a carpenter more efficient in his work. E-mail makes communications more efficient. Root cause failure analysis is a tool that can be used in many situations and industries to improve efficiency of troubleshooting. Technicians can quickly find the source of problems so they can be fixed fast and fixed right the first time. Airplane black boxes and cockpit recorders allow investigators to determine what happened even when there is no one to tell them anything.

Cars now have some similar functions. Now imagine if every airplane or car had a camera and showing the interior for crash analysis. It would probably be even more effective than a simple voice recording. Similarly useful tools are now available for the high speed SMT assembly line with the same benefits; clear and quick understanding of the root cause of the problem, which leads to improved efficiency in fixing the problem. While some sensors and self-diagnostic tools exist, they are generally do not focus on finding the root cause. Root cause failure analysis tools such as embedded micro cameras to show the exact details of the pick and place process along with powerful analysis software can save a huge amount of time versus methods commonly used today and dramatically increase efficiency and equipment utilization.
Initially Published in the IPC Proceedings
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